November 18, 2017

Webster loses long-standing faculty members to voluntary retirement program

Katherine Jenkins is an employee who will be leaving behind 27 years of experience at Webster and will be starting a new chapter in her life once the semester ends. She said she will treasure the memories as she ventures down a new path.

Jenkins became fond of Webster’s traveling opportunities and decided in 2001 that she was going to teach in Thailand. She was honored to experience a different culture and  even received commendation from a princess on behalf of Webster Thailand.

“I had never had such a diverse group of animated, enthusiastic students,” Jenkins said. “They came from multiple government systems, religions, cultures and it really opened my eyes to the wide, wide world.”

Webster University will be losing 40 employees in total due to the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program.

According to Patrick Giblin, director of public relations, out of 60 faculty members and 73 staff members who were eligible, 29 staff members and 11 faculty members will be leaving Webster.

“The university has not distributed a list of those who signed up for this program and believe it is more appropriate that they self-identify if they so desire,” Giblin said.

One of the most memorable moments as a Webster teacher was when a student in Thailand wanted to learn about website development. She provided him with a book called “Internet for Dummies.” He held the book close to him with tears swelling up in his eyes. He said he was going to make the best website ever and he was doing it for her.

“I was calm until he left the room and then I choked up because books like this were not widely available in his world,” Jenkins said. “I had given him the key to his future and he made very good use of it.”

Jenkins graduated from the University of Missouri with a BA in English Literature and an MA in marketing through Webster University. She worked at Maritz and decided the long hours and time away from family was too much. She set out on a journey to find the things she loved most, which was research and mentoring young people. Webster was first on her list because of the international opportunities and because she wanted to help people learn.

The program was approved by the Board of Trustees back in January due to the increased requests from faculty and staff. The program will allow the employees, who are at least 60 years old, to receive a lump sum retirement incentive payment once they leave Webster. They will also receive medical, dental and vision insurance, if they don’t already receive Medicare.

According to a press release, Julian Schuster, the provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Webster, appreciates the hard work provided from these employees. Schuster said employees at Webster will now have the chance to retire easily and affordably.

“We value the hard work and commitment of our long-term employees and understand that their contributions over the years have helped mold Webster into the great institution that it is,” Schuster said.

After retirement, Jenkins would like to continue traveling and also wants to provide children with healthier food choices.

“I am passionate about school gardens for elementary schools and am currently working at Mason Elementary School,” Jenkins said. “I will keep making healthy food opportunities for kids as long as I can.”   

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