Administration said Webster Works Worldwide needs improvement after 24 years of service projects.
Webster University administration sent a letter to Webster faculty and staff over the summer explaining that community service program Webster Works Worldwide (WWW) was placed on hold for the 2019/2020 academic year. The administration said the program needed improvement.
WWW is a 24-year-old program to encourage students to give back to the community and incorporate service learning into the curriculum. Service learning tries to combine community service with goal based learning to support student growth and the common good.
According to Patrick Giblin, director of public relations for Webster, the school administration created two task forces to improve the quality of WWW and the availability of community service to Webster students.
“We believe that in the coming months, there will be greater opportunities for our students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to life outside of the classroom” Giblin said.
The first task force is called the Service Learning Task Force. Giblin said its job is to analyze how helpful the service opportunities of WWW are to the communities served. Another goal of the Service Learning task force is to clearly define and deliver service projects.
Giblin said the task force will meet later this academic year to share ideas, fine tune the program and integrate it better into the curriculum.
The other task force created by administration is called Universal Volunteerism to explore opportunities for service throughout the year for students, faculty and staff.
Once each task force is finished, further announcements will be made to the University and Webster Groves community about what changes are being made, Giblin said. The university will also encourage greater participation in the Webster Groves Making a Difference Day.
The Webster Groves Making a Difference Day happens every year at the end of October in the community of Webster Groves. Giblin said the University Volunteerism task force is looking at partnering with the event in the future.
The task force is not the only entity looking to get involved in community service. Sarah Hill, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said she founded the club Impact last spring to create a community service club on campus.
Hill said she set up Impact to bypass administration bureaucracy and create a student-run community service organization. She said her goal is to continue the partnerships the university had through WWW and use those partnerships as a resource for students who are interested in volunteering individually.
“I think it is hard for students to figure out where to get involved and find where the starting point is,” Hill said. “Students will know where to go when they want an opportunity to volunteer.”
Hill said Impact is already working on getting groups involved with Making A Difference Day and St. Louis World Food Day. She said she has also met with Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch about what the university can do to help around the community. According to Hill, Welch loves the idea of the university getting involved in the community more.
“A big part of service is building the community relations,” Hill said. “It will help students who are volunteering know that they have a place to go.”
Hill said that hopefully they will be able to track participants hours and how many places they are serving. At the moment however, Impact has a small base since it is relatively new and has not had much publicity, Hill said. She still hopes that the idea will grow to bring students, faculty and administration together to serve the greater St. Louis community.
“I hope Webster Works comes back,” Hill said. “But also hope in the meantime we can create a campus of students who care to be involved.”