ST. LOUIS, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Webster University alumna Jane Robert and her husband, Bruce, have donated $1 million to establish the Jane and Bruce Robert Professorship in French and Francophone Studies in the University's College of Arts and Sciences. This is Webster's first opportunity to recruit a full-time, continuing faculty member into a named professorship supported by an endowment from an alumna and her husband. It also ranks among the largest alumni gifts in the University's history.
"Longtime friends of Webster University, Jane and Bruce Robert have now through their generosity significantly furthered Webster's capacity for leadership in global academic excellence," said Webster President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. "We are grateful to be a recipient of their philanthropy and to advance this university's impact on students and community through a first-of-its-kind gift. For an alumna and advisory board chair to invest in her institution by enhancing our full-time faculty is notable and ground-breaking."
At a ceremony held today to announce the Roberts' gift to Webster, Mrs. Robert said, "I have made French and the many cultures it influences my life's work because of the beauty and depth of the language. From soft diplomacy to hard science, including an overwhelming presence in the arts and literature, the French language maintains a vital role in verbal and social communications internationally. At the very least, it is such a pleasure to read."
"Jane and I have a strong belief that studying a foreign language helps students appreciate other cultures and societies," said Bruce Robert. "Our intention is for this French Professorship to assist Webster University in continuing its excellent program in International Studies."
Webster University Provost Julian Z. Schuster said the Roberts' gift will have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining overall academic excellence at Webster. "The study of language is central to Webster's mission and vision, especially the goal of educating students for global citizenship," Schuster said. "Not only will the Jane and Bruce Robert Professorship enhance the French program at Webster University, but it also allows Webster to provide leadership in enhancing French and Francophone studies in the community, and in illustrating the importance and influence of French language, literature and culture – past, present and future."
The Robert French Professorship will support in perpetuity a scholar of French and Francophone studies, which encompasses the literature and culture of dozens of French-speaking countries. According to David Carl Wilson, dean of Webster's College of Arts & Sciences, "French language and culture are critical to many areas of inquiry where Webster is strong, such as human rights, international relations, history and women's studies. So, the Robert French Professor will not only advance French and Francophone studies, but also will contribute to some of these related areas."
Jane Robert is highly regarded locally, nationally and internationally as an advocate for the study of French. She earned her bachelor's degree from Webster in French Language and Literature in 1969, and also attended la Sorbonne in Paris, France, where she earned her Diplome d'Etudes de Civilisation during her junior year abroad. Mrs. Robert went on to earn a master's degree in French Language and Literature from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1973. She then taught French at all levels – from elementary school through college. Over the years, she also has sponsored numerous student exchanges and French-related activities.
From 1999 to 2003, Mrs. Robert served as president of Alliance Francaise de St. Louis. She also held the position of national president of the Federation of Alliances Francaises USA from 2001 to 2006, and president of St. Louis-Lyon Sister Cities Inc. from 2006 to 2009. Currently, Mrs. Robert serves as chair of the Advisory Board of Webster's College of Arts and Sciences. She also is president of Renaissance Francaise-USA, a national delegation that encourages the appreciation of French language and culture. Mrs. Robert's new initiatives also include serving on the founding boards of American Friends of the Musee d'Orsay and the St. Louis Language Immersion Schools.
Mrs. Robert has received numerous honors and awards for her advocacy work, including the French Legion of Honor in 2007, which is the highest distinction awarded by the French government, and, in 1998, the French government's knighthood known as Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques.
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities.
Since opening its first campus overseas in Geneva in 1978, Webster has become a recognized leader and innovator in global education, with an international presence that now includes campuses in London; Vienna; Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands; Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, China; and Bangkok and Cha-am, Thailand. Webster also has educational partnerships with universities in Mexico and Japan.
SOURCE Webster University -- Saint Louis Campus