November 30, 2020

Editorial: Wexler’s Legacy

Jacqueline Grennan Wexler came to Webster University at a tumultuous time. The school, and the country, were at the crossroads — old world meeting new in a flurry of change. On the cusp of the civil rights movement, political revolution and a radical shift in American ideals, Wexler helped Webster weather the storm.

Wexler was ahead of her time, transforming what began as a small religious institute into a nationally recognized and lauded college. Her charismatic personality and relentless drive drew students and instructors to Webster.

She charmed presidents Kennedy and Johnson, a hotel mogul, and an awarded physicist. She showed bravery in the face of criticism and adversity for what were seen as controversial decisions. She followed her heart, first in faith as a Sister of Loretto, then in love when she left the order to marry a Jewish man.

Webster was arguably more changed by Wexler’s influential four years than any other time in university history. When one looks at Webster’s groundbreaking programs and global presence that outshines most other institutions, it seems Wexler never left.

In three years, Webster will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Journal believes those years will be again a time of great change for the university. Some of those transitions are starting now, as Webster seeks to create a new master plan and begins to consider new international campuses. The Webster Works campaign, which raised millions of dollars for university growth and development, is only a start to what looks to be a new era of change.

Today, Webster owes much of its success to Wexler. Friends and family said she was as innovative and dedicated as she was friendly. She built relationships and community. The Journal hopes President Beth Stroble and Webster administrators take a page from Wexler’s book as they move the university forward. Let’s enter the next 100 years in a way fitting to Wexler’s lasting legacy.

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