November 29, 2020

Chancellor Neil George set to retire at end of year

PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS/ The Journal Chancellor Neil George stands outside Loretto Hall on Sept. 6. George will retire from Webster at the end of the year.

After 40 years at Webster University,  Neil George will retire from his position as chancellor at the end of the 2011-12 academic year.

George has been discussing his retirement with President Beth Stroble since spring, and officially announced his retirement Aug. 31 online through a blog post by Stroble on “Webster Today.”

“I’m looking forward to change the pace of my life,” George said. “We’ll see what the next phase is. I’m open to opportunities.”

George joined the Webster faculty in 1972. He served as chair of the History and Political Science department, chair of the faculty, undergraduate dean, vice president of academic affairs, interim president and, most recently, chancellor of the university.

“He’s made a career-long commitment to Webster University, and he was here during an important time of so much change and growth,” Stroble said. “He’s really been hugely influential in the Webster that we know.”

George first moved to St. Louis when he joined Webster’s faculty. He said the university is very similar to when he started, but bigger. As chancellor, George has worked to widen the university’s international relations.

He said he is happy to see Webster’s original mission still intact and that it was very organic that the mission has changed to focus on a global perspective for students.

“What I found remarkable about Webster is that people care about one another and reach out to help,” George said. “It’s very gratifying for those of us who have been a part of Webster for a long time.”

George is the last remaining senior administrator from Richard Meyer’s presidency. In less than three years, all the vice-presidents under Meyer — including Debbie Day, Dave Garafola, Jim Staley and Karen Luebert — will have left Webster.

“Institutions change,” Stroble said. “People like Neil give their 40 years to the institution. Other people come to an organization and then, for a whole variety of reasons, choose to leave. Really strong universities — and I’d say Webster is one — have the ability to embrace people who have been here and made career-long commitments and people who are new. A really vibrant and strong organization embraces diversity in all its ways.”

After retiring, George is excited to spend more time with his wife, Tozia, and their four children, who are spread out between both coasts. He plans to travel, read and engage in sports more.

Stroble said she is using this time to celebrate George’s career and finding a replacement is “premature to even think about.”

“It’s bittersweet,” George said. “But while I’m formally leaving my role as chancellor, I will never leave Webster psychologically. It will always be a part of my life.”

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