Name Changes to the Institution | Webster University Library

Name Changes to the Institution

From Loretto College to Webster College (1924)


The Sisters of Loretto founded Loretto College in 1915. In 1924, the institution's name was changed to Webster College.


There are at least two explanations as to why "Webster" was chosen for the new name. The first reason is the fact that Webster Hall, the administration building constructed in 1916, sits on property once owned by the Benjamin Webster family. The Sisters purchased the property in the late 19th century. As stated in an editorial in the Lorettine:


"There seems to have been no hesitation whatever on the part of the Faculty in the selection of a fitting substitute for 'LORETTO'. Almost at once the name 'WEBSTER' suggested itself, coming naturally and conclusively from the fact that some thirty years ago the Sisters of Loretto purchased the old Webster home and founded what was then known as Loretto Seminary. In the course of time our College was erected on the old site and given the name of Loretto College.1


A second explanation is that "Webster" was chosen in recognition of the city of Webster Groves where the school is located. As Dr. Francis V. Corcoran, C.M., former head of the Philosophy Department at Webster, wrote:


"The reason for the change hardly needs any explanation. Colleges frequently change their name and in the present instance it is called for on account of the circumstances I have given. Then in adopting a name for an institution it has been the custom to take the name of the locality in which the college is situated, and this school will be named after this beautiful suburb of St. Louis, a name that will bring to mind the charming surroundings in which it exists, a name that will establish a closer bond of contact with the local community, a name that will appeal to the inhabitants of Webster Groves and make them feel that they have an interest in this institution, a name that will make the students take a more lively interest in things which concern the community in which they are."2



Change to Webster University (1983)


Webster College changed its name to Webster University effective February 1, 1983. In a news release dated February 3, 1983, Board Chairman Robert C. West stated:


"We recognized that over the past 20 years Webster has grown from a small liberal arts college into a complex, international university…Formally operating as a university clearly announces to the public a structure that we have had for a decade. Webster is, in fact, a university with a solid undergraduate base and strong, diverse, post-baccalaureate programs."


Dr. Joseph P. Kelly, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty at that time, added: "Because of the diversity of its growth and development, Webster as an institution defies easy classification. We struggled for some time trying to find the right word to describe our history of educational innovation. 'University' fits better than any other designation because it implies the importance of academic traditions while suggesting a breadth of activities consistent with Webster’s mission."



1The Lorettine, vol. 18, no. 3, June 1924, p. 226-228.

2Corcoran, Francis V., C.M. Announcment of the new name for the college. The Lorettine, vol. 18,, no. 4, November 1924, p. 315-319.