$1 Million Donation to Webster University for Endowed Professorship in Biological Sciences

Jan. 22, 2015

ST. LOUIS (JAN. 22, 2015) – Larry and Jinny Browning have donated $1 million to Webster University to establish the Laurance L. Browning, Jr. Endowed Professorship in Biological Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. The person hired for that new position will be tasked with elevating the study of biology in the community.

The announcement of the donation was made during a Board of Trustees meeting earlier today.

“This gift is an important step in enhancing our exemplary STEMM – science, technology, engineering, math and medicine – programs at Webster University, at the same time we make plans to construct the new Interdisciplinary Science Building,” said Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, president of Webster University. “We know that our region needs more students educated in STEMM disciplines, and this generous donation from 2008 Webster University Visionary Honorees Larry and Jinny Browning will fortify Webster’s comprehensive effort to prepare our future leaders for these needs.”

In a written statement, Jinny Browning said her husband was a firm believer in the importance of science learning. He passed away in 2012. “Larry truly loved Webster. He always said, ‘You cannot have a good university without a good biological sciences program,’” the statement says. “It is a fitting legacy of Larry’s love of Webster to ensure exceptional academic leadership and student engagement in the biological sciences through the creation of an endowed professorship.”

Under the terms of the donation, the professor hired for the new position must have a primary expertise in biology and will teach classes. The professor also will:

  • Advance the study of biological sciences on Webster University’s home campus as well as throughout the University’s network of campus around the world by engaging in research, scholarship and academic publishing;
  • Participate in organizations and events related to science, with the goal of cultivating interest in the study of biology at Webster University and in the community;
  • Coordinate the academic and co-curricular activities funded through the donation;
  • Highlight topics of contemporary importance to communities in a global context;
  • Provide leadership in illustrating the importance and influence of the study of science in the context of the liberal arts.

“This endowed professorship is central to Webster's strategic intention to enhance STEMM-related studies,” said Julian Schuster, Webster's provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “The generous gift from Larry and Jinny Browning will enhance Webster's capacity to provide academic leadership in STEMM education in our community for decades to come.”

“This is an exciting time for science at Webster University, one that comes on the eve of construction of our new Interdisciplinary Science Building,” said David Carl Wilson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “While this will significantly raise the profile of Webster University as a STEMM-focused institution, ultimately, it is our students who will benefit through the access to these resources.”

The Browning family has been associated with Webster University for nearly three decades. Larry Browning joined the Board of Trustees in 1986, served as chairman from 1991 until 1993, and was named a Life Trustee in 2005. He was the founder and director of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which operates on Webster University’s home campus. Larry and Jinny Browning were also major philanthropists to Webster University’s Community Music School and the construction of the Emerson Library, and have made a significant gift toward the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science Building. Additionally, their daughter Kathryn B. Hendrickson attended Webster University.

In the community, Larry Browning served on the board of directors for the Grand Center, Sheldon Concert Hall, the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park Forever, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Missouri Historical Society, the Sheldon Arts Foundation and the St. Louis Symphony. He was a director of Inroads Inc., vice president and director of the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis and served as chairman of the Arts and Education Fund Drive in 1982. He also served on the executive committee of the Missouri Arts Council, and was a trustee for both the St. Louis Community Foundation and the St. Louis Art Museum.

The University will start looking for a professor to fill the new position by 2017, the same year that the Interdisciplinary Science Building could be completed.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

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