Ronald Daniel, director of Webster University’s campus in Geneva, sat at a table in the Grant Gymnasium eating lunch with people he meets with once a year. Catching up on each other’s families and work, Daniel dubbed the annual Worldwide Directors Meeting held in St. Louis “The Reunion.”
The Worldwide Directors Meeting agenda states the purpose of this gathering is to discuss, “initiative, programs and activities that are planned and under way for the coming year and beyond.”
Jacques Kaat, interim and academic director of the Leiden campus, said these meetings ensure all campuses are on the same page.
“We are regularly in touch with our European partners, but not with the directors of the extended campuses who are doing similar things to what we’re doing,” Kaat said.
Among the different topics discussed was the new undergraduate curriculum, which is to be initiated at every Webster campus. Daniel said he is glad President Elizabeth Stroble started the program because he said it needed to happen.
“I know she has really supported the global citizenship revision of the curriculum, and that’s an important thing because we have a lot of undergraduates in Geneva, and they take the same general education students here do,” Daniel said. “In that sense, making the mission producing global citizens, I’d say she’s right on track.”
Other changes at Webster include the renovation of the Thailand campus. Earlier this year, students studying abroad in Thailand started a blog stating that equipment provided for students, as well as communication with administrators, was not adequate. Ratish Thakur, director of the Thailand campus, said change has been implemented from these complaints.
“We continue to change things. It’s ongoing,” Thakur said. “Of course students need to express themselves, whether they come to my office or they set up a blog. We are trying to catch up on overdue maintenance and replacements. Some things weren’t done for the better part of a decade. And when you couple that with increased enrollment, you have serious infrastructure issues.”
Thakur said a completely refurbished computer lab is now available with up-to-date software. He said classrooms have also been renovated to the student’s requests.
Toyoshi Satow, visiting president of the Japanese J.F. Oberlin University, said he attended the Worldwide Directors Meeting because he is interested in making Oberlin an affiliate of the university.
“Even to compare with other schools in the States, the atmosphere is very active,” Satow said. “I feel that attention is being paid to the good care of students.”
Maria Domoto, vice president and head of the research institute of J.F. Oberlin, said she has been looking for unique universities to connect with.
“Webster was one of my first choices,” Domoto said. “It has so many overseas and domestic partners. Webster’s just one big family.”