Webster University is a small, private institution located in Webster Groves, Missouri--an area
populated by gigantic elm trees, small-town businesses, and quiet neighborhood streets. Ironically,
Webster is marketed as a "global university," offering campuses in Europe, Asia, and through-out the United States on military bases and in large metropolitan cities. The St. Louis campus
remains the largest; at "World Headquarters" there are approximately 6,000 students annually*.
It all started with Loretto College, a Catholic school for women in 1915. Loretto College turned into
Webster College turned into Webster University, as the school became co-ed and
the Sisters of Loretto transferred power to a board of directors in 1967. Pictures line Webster Hall
that date from 1915-2002. At one end of the hall, you see women in ankle-length skirts smiling with
nuns; at the other, the cast of The Fantastiks in bright makeup. To this day, the university
shares a library with Edin Theological Seminary, its only remaining religious tie.
Unlike many college campuses, Webster is easy to navigate on foot. There are no hideous mountains
like Cardiac Hill at SEMO. The campus is divided east to west
by Big Bend Road and Lockwood Avenue, and north to south by Edgar Road. The conservative Sverdrup** Business and Technology complex is surrounded on all sides by more liberal buildings: Lorretto-Hilton
Center for Performing Arts, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Webster and Loretto Hall, H. Sam
Priest Center for International Studies, Visual Studios, and so on. Currently, the campus takes up
about 50,000 acres of the Webster Groves community; there are other local campuses downtown and in Chesterfield.
The university is known for being a bizarre mix of business education and liberal arts. It is one of the few universities in the Midwest (and if I'm not mistaken, the country), that
includes "sexual preference" on it's anti-discrimination disclaimer. This, along with the
popularity of the liberal and performing arts majors, and a semi-annual Drag Ball, might be why
Webster has a high population of gay and lesbian students. Then again, it might be the other way
around. Regardless, while there is a stark contrast between the conservative and liberal components
of the schools, everyone comes together nicely for projects like Webster Works Worldwide, where
the entire faculty & student body take a day in November to do community service in teams.
Their athletic department is limited to volleyball, soccer, baseball/softball, and swimming. Needless
to say, sports are not a top priority at Webster. In fact, they didn't have a mascot until 1984 when
the powers that be basically invented one. They are the mighty Gorloks (roar). According to "legend"
(aka the story the board made up), a Gorlok has the paws of a cheetah, the horns of a buffalo,
and the "face of a dependable Saint Bernard."
I wish I were joking.
Webster is a commuter-friendly school with many "non-traditional" students. In plain English, most
Webster students live in the area and choose to reside off-campus. There are no real fraternities or
sororities*** to speak of, and the dorms are typically used by international students and those in the
theatre program (the only real out-of-town draw). This is not a party school. I repeat--this is not a
party school. Most faculty are adjunct and have jobs in their respective fields outside of teaching and research, and the flexible rolling class schedule attracts a lot of older students who want to go back to school
after raising a family or starting a career. It is also easy to gain admission, the compulsory GPA being something like 2.5. Tuition is between $13,000 and $17,000 per year, or about $400 per credit hour, so the school targets mostly middle class students.
Webster is named after Daniel Webster--not the short guy from tv.
*that number becomes approx. 15,000 worldwide
**(that's "sverr-drrr-up" if you wondered)
***thanks to the Webster Groves community, who have an antiquated rule about brothels that makes
sorority houses illegal
You can get more information on the university (as I did) by visiting http://www.webster.edu