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Webster University History

Facts and figures about Webster University throughout its history


graduation 1941

Commencement has been an important event at Webster throughout its history. For many years, the main commencement ceremony was preceded by a Baccalaureate ceremony which was more religious in nature. Some years also featured a second ceremony later that same summer.

In addition, Webster was at one time a member of the Corporate Colleges of St. Louis University along with a number of other Catholic women's colleges in the area. During those years, Webster held ceremonies on its campus and also joined in the ceremony held at St. Louis University.

Commencement was held on the main campus in St. Louis through 1984. In the early years, the event was held inside with a brief ceremonial planting of the ivy conducted outdoors. The June 1938 issue of the Lorettine reports that 1938 marked the first time graduation was outside on the main campus grounds (The Lorettine, vol. 32, no. 4, June 1938, pp. 177–179).

The main ceremony moved indoors into the new Webster/Nerinx gymnasium which opened in 1948 and was later held in the Loretto Hilton Center once that facility opened in 1966. Eventually, larger spaces were needed to accommodate the students and their guests, and the ceremony moved to a number of venues around St. Louis.

On the commencement speakers page, only the individuals who spoke on the Webster campus are listed.

Commencement location timeline

  • 1948–1965: Webster/Nerinx Gymnasium
  • 1966–1984: Loretto-Hilton Center
  • 1985–1988: Powell Symphony Hall
  • 1989: Kiel Opera House (now called the Peabody Opera House)
  • 1990: Eden Seminary grounds
  • 1991: St. Louis Arena
  • 1992–2003: Eden Seminary grounds
  • 2004–2008: Edward Jones Dome (now called The Dome at America's Center)
  • 2009–2019: Muny Opera in Forest Park
  • 2020–2021: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual ceremonies were held.
  • 2022–present: Webster University, Webster Groves campus