Webster University is located in the St. Louis area in the suburban community of Webster Groves. The University was founded in 1915 by a Catholic womens organization called the Sisters of Loretto. Originally called Loretto College, reflecting its founders, it was one of the first Catholic women's colleges located west of the Mississippi River. Male students were allowed to attend after the University became co-ed in 1962.
Although the main campus is located in St. Louis, Webster University has several other campuses across the country. There are also international campuses in London, England; Vienna, Austria; Geneva, Switzerland; Cha Am, Thailand; Leiden, the Netherlands; and Shanghai, China.
Webster has about 5,000 enrolled students at the main campus in Webster Groves and 15,000 worldwide. The University has an alumni of more than 100,000. The University serves both traditional students as well as adult learners.
Webster University is an important Center for the Arts and Arts Education in the St. Louis area. Webster's Loretto-Hilton Theater is home to The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. It also hosts the Webster Film Festival. Opera performances are accompanied by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The St. Louis Symphony and Webster University have a partnership and offer various joint programs at the main campus, providing students with a great opportunity to learn music from some of the nations best musicians. It also hosts the Webster Film Festival.
Webster University faculty credentials, academic standing, and commitment to excellence have been widely recognized. U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Webster in the top tier of Midwestern Universities under the Masters category. In 2002 Webster was recognized for its outstanding contributions to military education by the Council of College and Military Educators. Money magazine rated Webster University as one of the ten best commuter colleges in the United States.
With the opening of the Shanghai campus in 1996 Webster University became the first American university approved by the Chinese government to offer the M.B.A. in China. Webster is ranked as having one of the highest graduate business enrollments in the United States by AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Still operated by a board of trustees, the international university structures its programs to ensure that each student's education is a successful blend of theoretical and practical knowledge.
The small close-knit campus and the tradition of small class sizes at Webster enhance the learning experience. This allows students to receive good one on one attention from their instructors. Academic debate and the free exchange of ideas is encouraged. Instructors at Webster University are also accessible.
Integration at Webster University
The local chapter of the Midwest Clergy Conference on Negro Welfare attempted to integrate Webster in 1943, but St. Louis Archbishop John J. Glennon blocked the enrollment of a young black woman by speaking directly with the superior of the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky. The Pittsburgh Courier, a national black newspaper, ran a front-page feature on the Webster incident. After Glennon's death in 1946, the new St. Louis Archbishop, Joseph E. Ritter, moved swiftly to remove barriers to the integration of the city's Catholic educational institutions.
Break from the Church
When the school was founded in 1915, the entire faculty consisted of the Sisters of Loretto, a sect of Catholic nuns. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the enrollment of students at Webster skyrocketed, while the number of women becoming nuns plummeted. By 1967, the faculty consisted of 75% laypersons. The Sisters were only given housing and paid basic expenses. With the increasing number of lay faculty came large salaries, and financial difficulties for the school. The Catholic Church was also disturbed by the fact that the college curriculum had changed, and had dropped what it saw as essential courses (such as theology). Some Church leaders ordered lay faculty to be fired, citing beliefs held by those professors that are contrary to Catholic doctrine. Jacqueline Grennan Wexler, then nun and president of the College, requested that control of the college be handed over to a lay board. Initially, local Catholic authorities resisted the move, but The Vatican approved in 1967.
The Sisters of Loretto still attend alumni events, and serve as informal advisors to the current college leadership.
In 2006, the Sisters of Loretto voiced their concern that Webster has a transfer program with the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in Fort Benning, GA. That institute trains soldiers and leaders in Latin America, many of whom are accused of humans rights abuses, which the Sisters of Loretto has repeatedly protested. In response to complaints from the Sisters and some faculty, the Webster leadership quickly ended the program.
470 East Lockwood Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119-3194
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