Annual Webster Society Event Celebrates Donors, Visionary Award Honorees

Attendees in conversation at the Webster Society DinnerLongtime donors and Webster University supporters Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin '63 and Alice (Donovan) Boylan '66 were honored with the Visionary Award during the annual Webster Society Dinner on Nov. 9, 2021.

Dwyer-Dobbin, who supported Webster throughout her storied 40-year career as a TV producer and manager, accepted the award on a night she shared with fellow alumni and two current recipients of the scholarship she endowed in stage management.

Boylan, who passed away in 2020, left in her estate a legacy gift to Webster, citing the transformative experiences she had as a transfer student.

Both Dwyer-Dobbin and Boylan had previously spoken of the wisdom and values imparted on them by the Sisters of Loretto, who in the 1960s urged them to pass that on to others while supporting the generations of Webster students who would follow them.

After Dwyer-Dobbin shared reflections upon receiving the Visionary Award, board of trustees member Mark Darrell led a toast to both Visionary Award honorees.
After Dwyer-Dobbin shared reflections upon receiving the Visionary Award, board of trustees member Mark Darrell led a toast to both Visionary Award honorees.

In addition to providing a tribute to Visionary Award recipients, the annual Webster Society Dinner brings together members of three donor recognition societies: 

  • 1915 Society, whose members have a combined lifetime giving of a milestone amount that allows Webster University programs to expand and grow;
  • Legacy Society, whose members have included Webster University in their estate plans to provide for the gift of education for years to come;
  • Webster Society, whose members provide annual gifts that immediately impact Webster students, programs, and vision;

Held this year at the Clayton Plaza Hotel, the event enables donors to hear Webster news while interacting with one another, University leadership, and current students such as the Student Ambassadors.

"I want to emphasize how valued everyone in this room is, and what a pleasure it is to be with you tonight," said President Julian Schuster. "I hope you take away from tonight a deeper understanding of the impact you have on our students."

Dean Paul Steger introduced entertainment from the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine ArtsAttendees also included student performers: The Jazz Combo of students Kameron Huff (alto sax), Sam Luetkemeyer (keyboards), and Blake Mickens (bass) performed during the cocktail hour, while Elizabeth Atkins performed a vocal solo of “So Many People” by Stephen Sondheim and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” by Cy Coleman, accompanied by faculty member Lisa Campbell-Albert. The latter performance was introduced by Paul Steger, dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.

A common theme for the evening was the impact that Webster graduates and other supporters like Dwyer-Dobbin and Boylan have on current students. A video with Dwyer-Dobbin was played at the event and can be watched below:


The chancellor and president with members of the board of trustees
The chancellor and president with members of the board of trustees
Dwyer-Dobbin with friends, university leaders and scholarship recipients
Friends, leaders and scholarship recipients celebrated Dwyer-Dobbin.

Since Boylen passed away in 2020, Chancellor Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble shared her story with the help of quotes from her and her friends, and images from her time as a student.

"She loved the friends and mentors she encountered at Webster," Stroble said. "She loved the opportunity to travel and to participate in the arts. She fondly recalled the influence of Sister Mary Mangan, whose own approach in the classroom was a source of wisdom for Alice whenever she faced difficult situations with her own students."

Stroble told the story of how a friend of Boylan recently wrote to Webster: "Alice told me over and over that she was leaving her land and money to Webster University and the nuns [from Sacred Heart Griffin High School] she grew up with. ... It was really important that she took care of Webster.”

As Boylan planned her Legacy Gift, over the years when Webster donor relations liaisons asked her if she had a particular use in mind, she said to use it however we see fit: “My only real hope,” she said, “is that the University continues to foster curiosity among students.”

Webster speakers at Webster SocietyThe evening's program was a collaborative effort from Webster leadership, with Sumit Verma, chair of the board of trustees, providing an update on recent University news in the opening, and fellow trustee Mark Darrell leading the audience in toasts to Dwyer-Dobbin and Boylan.

And Chancellor Stroble concluded the evening by discussing ways to support Webster, including a Legacy Society video featuring alumnae Laura Herring and Marsha Mason. Society members received pens made of wood from the century tree, inscribed with "Write Your Legacy." 

"We thank you and want you to know how dear you are to us," Stroble said. "You are the Webster extended family and because of you, we know Webster’s future is bright."

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