Elizabeth Stroble, Webster University

Elizabeth Stroble

Global Diversity

Editors’ Note

Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble has held her current post since 2009. Previously, she held roles as Senior Vice President, Provost, and Chief Operating Officer, as well as Dean, School of Education, for The University of Akron; Associate Dean and Faculty Member for University of Louisville; Faculty Member for Northern Arizona University; and Secondary Teacher for Vandalia Community Schools. She received her A.B. in History from Augustana College; her M.A. in History and an M. A. in English Language and Literature/Letters from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; and her Ph.D. in Curricular Studies from the University of Virginia.

Institution Brief

Webster University (webster.edu) is an American nonprofit private university with its home campus in Webster Groves, Missouri. Webster operates as an independent, non-denominational university with multiple campus locations across the United States and in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, including the liberal arts, fine and performing arts, communications, teacher education, business, and management.

When the opportunity presented itself to lead Webster, what made you feel it would be the right fit?

I sensed that Webster had a history of being welcoming and also upholding strong core values with an ethical base. I found it appealing to be at such a mission-focused institution.

I also appreciated how entrepreneurial Webster was as it evolved to meet student needs, which are continually changing. Early on, Webster had transformed to be co-ed and independent and later to take education to military bases to provide opportunities for those who serve. Webster also recognized that many people around the globe crave and will benefit from an American-style education. Some students also need the convenience of high-quality online offerings, and we provide that. Innovating to meet student needs certainly impressed me as an educator.

Still today, there aren’t many institutions in the country that are inclined to support women as presidents: Only 26 percent of university presidents are women, and this has been the same for 10 years. Most college presidents who are women tend to be at community colleges or religious small liberal arts colleges, not comprehensive universities with master’s and doctoral programs and a global presence.

Webster was an unusual opportunity. There is a strong commitment in this community to diversity and inclusion, and it seemed the kind of inclusive community that would embrace women’s leadership.

Finally, I loved the global diversity that is so needed in an educational environment to help students experience a connection and flow of people, information, and ideas, which is embodied in Webster’s mission. I continue to find that to be challenging, both intellectually and professionally.

For those not familiar with St. Louis, will you touch on the excitement the city offers?

The Gateway Arch is our symbol, and it’s appropriate because St. Louis was the gateway for a better life. There are so many neighborhoods that reflect our diversity, as well as wonderfully vibrant arts, and start-up business communities. The cost of living is manageable and public transportation makes it easy to commute to campus. We provide free public transportation tickets for students to attend sporting and cultural events. St. Louis has it all and we love it.