Catherine Webster: New Dean of the Liberal Arts

Catherine Webster: New Dean of the Liberal Arts

Dr. Catherine Webster was appointed dean of the Liberal Arts College in July 2016. Webster has been a professor at UCO since 2006. Photo by Ryan Naeve, The Vista. 

University of Central Oklahoma French professor, Dr. Catherine Webster, was picked by the College of Liberal Arts, and officially started the position of overseeing all the departments and their students and faculty that began on July 1, 2016.

Over the summer, Webster has organized events to welcome all the new 23 faculty members on her department, and also helped some of the new staff move to Oklahoma. Webster has been looking for ways to raise money for the Liberal Arts program, while helping students with scholarships to facilitate their studies.

As dean, half of her job is to be responsible for all the academic matters at the college, which has to do with teachers, student performance, and evaluations for faculty. Another quarter of her job is to manage external relations, fundraising, and development for events and programs that are attractive to alumni, news students and people that contribute to the college.

The other quarter of her job is to deal with administrative matters, where she is be the main representative for all the departments under the college. This part of the job also has assessment date of how students are doing from the time they start their learning career at UCO to when they leave.

Webster has worked with enrollment management and admission as they are getting new students, and has put an organized schedule for classes, and sections according to the university’s policy.

When asked what she’s looking forward to the most this semester, Webster said she’s excited for the project to enhance and expand the school’s physical space. Several deans, along with UCO President Don Betz, are putting a lot of work into this new project, she said.

“I hope to be moving that project forward. The Pegasus theater here in our building is woefully not compliant with accessibility issues; and it’s also just dilapidated. So, we are hoping in this project that we’ll have a much better auditorium space to accommodate students, and faculty and different kinds of events.”

According to Webster, there has been a shortage of space in classrooms as well as faculty offices. Currently, 40 faculty members at the Liberal Arts building do not have their own office, she said.

“It’s very tight, and it can be challenging for faculty to get their work done properly. So that whole project, which would allow us to have more faculty offices, more classrooms, and a better auditorium. In addition to informal meeting spaces for students, reception area and some other appropriate meeting places and gathering places; all of these things are in this project that we are working for.”

Some of Webster’s short-term goals are to look at how we communicate with perspective students. She said she believes that having more meaningful stories to tell students who are looking to come to UCO before orientations could help.

She is looking to possibly have a video about the Liberal Arts College to show to future students some of the stories of professors, students, and successful alumni from the different departments.

A long-term goal would be to make students that are already here feel more engaged with the college, specifically people who might not be far into their majors who might not feel connected to a department. To fix this, she has been brainstorming on possibly having an event, like a Symposium which is held in the spring, for the fall.

The legacy she said she wants to leave would be to have more connections with students and to bring all the departments closer together.

Webster arrived at UCO in 2006, and has since attained tenure as a professor while also serving as a chair to the UCO Department of Modern Languages.

Webster completed her bachelor’s and master’s programs at Columbia University in New York in French and student personnel administration, and later obtained her Ph.D. in French from New York University.

She has received multiple awards, including the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Member of the Year award, a Faculty Merit-Credit award for outstanding service, a DaVinci Fellow award and the Vanderford Distinguished Teaching award.

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