President and Provost Form Steering Committee
December 20, 2017
To the University community:
The environment for higher education is fraught with challenges which test institutions’ ability to advance their missions. Not only has competition from a variety of providers increased, the demographics of those we serve have shifted in significant ways. Market forces put pressure on costs and revenues and the kind of education most valued by students, families, and employers. Certainly, the current policy environment, as evidenced by the proposed federal tax reform legislation and higher education reauthorization, has threatened access for underserved populations and philanthropic benefits for donors and institutions.
While the effects of these dynamic conditions vary from institution to institution, Webster University cannot and will not escape their impact.
Webster University is facing a period of budget strains that require bold actions and innovations that enable us to meet the challenges of market forces, changing demographics, and a dynamic policy context. The university community will need to strategize what’s next in meeting unmet needs at high levels of quality and at the same time generating revenue in line with costs.
To oversee the necessary reframing of our operations while maintaining the integrity of our educational mission, Julian Z. Schuster, University Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer will work with a special steering committee of administrators, faculty, and staff to review all of the University’s functions. This committee will have a three-fold charge: 1) recommend immediate and necessary budget adjustments for this fiscal year to address short-term constraints; 2) identify inefficiencies in our systems as ways to build a strong academic and administrative base for our future; and 3) review innovative ideas to construct a new academic business model which will continue to strengthen and diversify revenue streams for the University.
The steering committee co-chairs will work with faculty and staff appointed to three subcommittees for the three areas described above. Ultimately the recommendations for the short-, mid- and long-term will be vetted by Provost Schuster and an external consultant and communicated to President Stroble, who will then confer with the Webster Board of Trustees.
The results of this initiative will produce necessary short-term adjustments as well as business changes for the medium- and long-term that will create a more sustainable business model for the University. The University will use its existing strategic plan as a guide to catalyze this process of seeking greater sustainability. This process will necessitate creative yet disciplined solutions for our current financial challenges.
Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble
Julian Z. Schuster
Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer