Webster biology department receives $1 million donation for endowed professorship


The biology department at Webster University received a $1 million dollar donation to create an endowed professorship last week. The donation was announced at a Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 22 directed at attracting and hiring a new biology professor at the university by 2017.

The announcement of the donation comes as Webster University continues to work towards enhancing its STEMM-related studies program. While the search for a new biology professor is underway, Webster will be finalizing plans to create a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary science building. The STEMM program focuses on science, technology, engineering, math and medicine and is quickly becoming a major focus for the university.

As stipulated by the donors the professor hired through the endowment will play a crucial role in the biology department with responsibilities extending far beyond the classroom. According to a post on the university website, the professor will also:

  • Advance the study of biological sciences on Webster University’s home campus as well as throughout the University’s network of campus around the world by engaging in research, scholarship and academic publishing;
  • Participate in organizations and events related to science, with the goal of cultivating interest in the study of biology at Webster University and in the community;
  • Coordinate the academic and co-curricular activities funded through the donation;
  • Highlight topics of contemporary importance to communities in a global context;
  • Provide leadership in illustrating the importance and influence of the study of science in the context of the liberal arts.

Jinny Browning, the widow of Larry Browning, made the $1 million donation to the school. Larry Browning served on the Board of Trustees at Webster University starting in 1986 and remained associated until his passing in 2012. He also served as the chairman of the board for two years and was named a Life Trustee in 2005.

In the same web post, the Webster University Public Relations office said Mrs. Browning made the donation in part due to her husband’s love of the sciences.

“Larry truly loved Webster,” she said in a written statement. “He always said, ‘You cannot have a good university without a good biological sciences program. It is a fitting legacy of Larry’s love of Webster to ensure exceptional academic leadership and student engagement in the biological sciences through the creation of an endowed professorship.”

Mr. Brown was known for his philanthropic efforts all around St. Louis, including serving on the board of Sheldon Concert Hall and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital among many others.

The endowed professorship will be the first such honor given to the biology department, and only the second in the history of Webster. The first endowment was given to professor Jane Robert in December 2010 under the Jane and Bruce Robert Professorship in French and Francophone Studies.

The science department will have its first meeting in regards to the professorship on Feb. 3.

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