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Webster University History

Facts and figures about Webster University throughout its history

Pre-1920s and 1920s


  • 1919: Reverend Dr. Corcoran, Kenrick Seminary3


  • 1920: no public ceremony held14
  • 1921: Rev. F.X. McMenamy, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)10
  • 1921: Reverend Corcoran C.M.2
  • 1922: Rev. P.P. Crane (Baccalaureate sermon)4
  • 1922: Rev. M.J. O’Connor, S.J., President of St. Louis University4
  • 1923: Rev. W.F. Robison, S.J.5
  • 1924: Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)6
  • 1924: Rev. F.V. Corcoran, C.M., PH.D.7
  • 1925: Reverend Martin O’Malley, C.M. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1926: Reverend Paul J. Ritchie, S.T.L. (Baccalaureate sermon)8
  • 1926: Reverend Alphonse M. Schwitalla, S.J.9
  • 1927: Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)11
  • 1927: Very Rev. Wm. P. Barr, C.M.V.11
  • 1928: Rev. Francis C. Kelley, DD., Bishop of Oklahoma; former president Extension Society1
  • 1929: George F. Zook, Ph.D., President of the University of Akron1


  • 1930: Rev. Russell Wilbur of Notre Dame Parish1
  • 1931: Reverend J. J. Gunn, C.Ss.R. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1931: Very Rev. Francis V. Corcoran, C.M., president of De Paul University1
  • 1932: Rev. William J. Ryan, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1932: Dr. R. Emmet Kane, M.D.1
  • 1933: Very Rev. William M. Magee, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1933: Honorable Forrest C. Donnell and Dr. George F. Donovan1
  • 1934: Honorable William L. Igoe, President, Board of Police Commissioners of St. Louis1
  • 1935: Dr. R. Emmet Kane, member, Advisory Board of Webster College1
  • 1936: Rev. Martin J. O’Malley1
  • 1937: Rev. A. M. Keefe, O. Praem1
  • 1938: Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J., national organizer of the Sodality of Our Lady and editor of The Queen’s Work (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1938: Robert E. Quinn, Governor of Rhode Island1
  • 1939: Very Rev. Michael J. O’Connell, C.M., president of De Paul University (Baccalaureate sermon)1


  • 1940: Most Rev. Joseph E. Ritter, D.D., Bishop of Indianapolis (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1940: Honorable Francis Parnell Murphy, Governor of New Hampshire1
  • 1941: The Reverend Charles M. O’Hara, S.J., Regent of the St. Louis University School of Education and Social Sciences (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1941: The Reverend Edward B. Rooney, S.J., Executive Director, Jesuit Educational Association
  • 1942: Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J. A.M., national director of The Sodality of Our Lady and editor of “The Queen’s Work” (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1942: William B. Lytton, M.D., Clinical Director, St. Vincent’s Sanitatrium, St. Louis, Missouri1
  • 1943: Most Rev. Edwin V. O’Hara, Bishop of Kansas City, Missouri1
  • 1944: Dean Clarence Manion of the University of Notre Dame Law School1
  • 1945: Reverend Monsignor Peter J. Dooley, V.F., Archbishop of Dubuque (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1945: Reverend Francis J. L. Beckman, Archbishop of Dubuque (address to graduates)
  • 1946: Michael F. Manley, A.M., Instructor in Philosophy (summer commencement ceremony)
  • 1947: Reverend Philip J. Le Fevre, C.M., A.M., Instructor in Philosophy (summer commencement ceremony)
  • 1948: Reverend Albert R. Zuroweste, D.D., Bishop of Belleville
  • 1949: Reverend Gilmore H. Guyot, C.M., Professor of Sacred Scripture at Kenrick Seminary (Mid-term ceremony, Jan. 31, 1949)12
  • 1949: Reverend Paul A. Woelfl, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)13
  • 1949: Reverend Leo R. Ward, C.S.C., Ph.D., Professor Philosophy, University of Notre Dame


  • 1950: Reverend Daniel A. Lord, S.J., A.M. Litt.D., National Organizer of the Sodality of Our Lady
  • 1951: Mr. Raymond R. Tucker, Director of Civil Defense for St. Louis
  • 1952: Reverend George J. Gottwald (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1953: Reverend Elmer H. Behrmann (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1953: Dr. Thomas A. Brady, vice-president of the University of Missouri1
  • 1954: Reverend Nicholas Persich, C.M. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1954: Reverend John Bonn, S.J., Professor, Fairfield University Graduate School
  • 1955: Reverend Francis J. Matthews (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1955: Reverend Walter J. Ong, S.J.1
  • 1956: Reverend Columba Cary-Elwes, O.S.B., Superior, Saint Louis Priory1
  • 1957: Reverend Robert F. Coerver, C.M., of Kenrick Seminary (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1957: Dr. Gabriel L. Rapatz, University of Wisconsin, former head of Webster biology department 1
  • 1958: Reverend Monsignor Leonard A. Bauer (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1958: H.W. Schooling, Ph.D., Superintendent of Webster Groves Schools
  • 1959: Reverend Thomas C. Glynn (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1959: J. Wesley McAfee, President of Union Electric Company


  • 1960: Reverend Monsignor Joseph H. Huels (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1960: Reverend Trafford Patrick Maher, S.J., Ph.D., Director of Dep. of Education, Saint Louis University
  • 1961: Very Reverend Gerard N. Glynn (Baccalaureate sermon)1
  • 1961: Dr. Robert E. Christin, Department of English, Notre Dame University1
  • 1962: Reverend William J. Cole (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1962: Dr. Francis V. Lloyd, Superintendent of Clayton Public Schools System
  • 1963: Reverend James J. Haggerty
  • 1963: Dr. Vernon R. Alden, President, Ohio University
  • 1964: Elizabeth Paschal, Associate Program Director, Education Division, The Ford Foundation
  • 1964: Reverend Vincent J. O’Flaherty, S.J. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1965: Reverend Donald E. Damhorst, Ph.D. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1965: Dr. Bennetta B. Washington, Director, Women’s Job Corps Centers
  • 1966: Reverend John W. Padberg, S.J., S.T.L., Ph.D. (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1966: Sister M. Francetta Barberis, President Emeritus of Webster College, Special Consultant to the Director, Women’s Job Corps Centers
  • 1967: Dr. Carl E. Pitts (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1967: Reverend Daniel Berrigan, author and poet
  • 1968: Reverend George L. Cadigan, D.D. Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Missouri (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1968: Mr. Harris Wofford, President, State University of New York
  • 1969: Dr. Walter A. Brueggemann, Eden Theological Seminary (Baccalaureate sermon)
  • 1969: Mrs. Philip A. Hart


  • 1970: John C. Danforth, Attorney General, State of Missouri
  • 1971: Dr. Leigh Gerdine, President, Webster College
  • 1971 (July): Arthur L. Mallory
  • 1972: Art Buchwald
  • 1973: Dr. Vary T. Coates
  • 1973 (July): Gene L. Schwilck
  • 1974: Dr. Daniel Bell
  • 1974 (July): Kathryn Nelson
  • 1975: Marsha Mason, actress ‘64
  • 1975 (July): James Stone
  • 1976: Dr. Joseph P. Kelly, Vice-President, Webster College
  • 1976 (July): Robert E. Wentz, Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools
  • 1977: Lesley Stahl, journalist
  • 1977 (July): Francis Gamelin
  • 1978: Rollo May
  • 1978 (July): Barbara Uehling, Chancellor, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • 1979: Margaret Bush Wilson, attorney and Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors
  • 1979 (July): James O’Flynn, president of the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association


  • 1980: Clifford M. Hardin, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
  • 1980 (July): Ernest Boyer
  • 1981: John W. Hanley, Chairman of Monsanto Co.
  • 1981 (July): William L. Hungate
  • 1982: Peter Davis, television producer and author
  • 1982 (July): Arthur Mallory, Commissioner of Education for Missouri
  • 1983: Douglas Edwards, broadcast journalist
  • 1983 (second May ceremony): George H. Walker III, Chief Executive Officer, Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.
  • 1983 (July): Adelaide Dorsey Tomber, member of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education
  • 1984: Dr. Raoul F. Kneucker
  • 1984 (July): Jeff Greenfield, television news analyst and syndicated political columnist
  • 1985: Sandi Freeman
  • 1986: Henry Cisneros, Mayor, San Antonio, Texas
  • 1987: Brian P. Lamb, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, C-SPAN, America’s Network
  • 1988: Ambassador Alan Woods, Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • 1989: Marion G. Cairns, Member, Missouri General Assembly, 97th Legislative District


  • 1990: Dr. Leigh Gerdine, President, Webster University
  • 1991: Senator Thomas F. Eagleton
  • 1992: William H. Donaldson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, New York Stock Exchange
  • 1993: Richard Gephardt, U.S. Congressman – Third District of Missouri (Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of Saint Petersburg, Russia, was originally scheduled to give the address but had to cancel.)
  • 1994: Jack Buck, Sports Director, KMOX/CBS Radio
  • 1995: President Richard S. Meyers, Webster University
  • 1996: Lieutenant Colonel Eileen M. Collins, NASA Astronaut and Space Shuttle Pilot
  • 1997: Marsha Mason, actress ‘64
  • 1998: Richard A. Liddy
  • 1999: President George H. W. Bush


  • 2000: James Buford, President and CEO, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • 2001: James W. Symington, Former U.S. Congressman from Missouri and White House Official
  • 2002: Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., Vice Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Bob Costas, Sportscaster, NBC (2 speakers)
  • 2003: Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, CEO of Grassroots Leadership, Inc.
  • 2004: Paul M. Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth professor of History and director of International Security Studies at Yale University; George Herbert Walker III (2 speakers)
  • 2005: Consuelo Uribe Wise Gallagher, Webster U. faculty emeritus; Jerry Mitchell, choreographer; Marylen Mann, Chairman of OASIS Institute (3 speakers)
  • 2006: Mayor Francis G. Slay, City of St. Louis
  • 2007: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, United States House of Representatives
  • 2008: J. Robert Kerrey, President, The New School
  • 2009: Rocky Carroll, actor, ’85


  • 2010: Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, ’01
  • 2011: Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond
  • 2012: Anne W. Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt
  • 2013: Norbert Leo Butz, actor '90
  • 2014: Koko Tanimoto Kondo, Hiroshima survivor and peace activist
  • 2015: Jenifer Lewis, actress '79
  • 2016: Jim Weddle, CEO, Edward Jones
  • 2017: Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • 2018: Michael P. McMillan, head of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • 2019: Katy Sullivan, actress, producer, writer, athlete '02


  • 2020: Vladimir Ivkovic, neuroscientist, '99
  • 2021: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic athlete and medalist
  • 2022: Dr. Djibril Diallo, president and CEO of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network (ARDN)
  • 2023: Matthew Vogel, actor and muppeteer, '93


Unless noted otherwise, speakers' names were gathered from Commencement programs.

1 For these years, speakers' names were found in the student newspaper.

2 Mowrey, Blanche. (1934). History of Webster (Loretto) College for the year September 1920 to September 1921. Unpublished manuscript, Webster University Archives.

3 Finnegan, Sr. Mary Edward. (1939). The history of the Webster College musical activities for scholastic years from September 1, 1916, to September 1, 1935. Unpublished manuscript, Webster University Archives.

4 Fallon, Dolores G. (1935). History of Webster (Loretto) College for the year September 1921 to September 1922. Unpublished manuscript, Webster University Archives.

5 Robison, Very Rev. W.F., S.J. (1923, June). Commencement address. The Lorettine, XVII(4), 329-334.

6 Lord, Rev. Daniel A., S.J. (1924, November). Baccalaureate sermon. The Lorettine, XVIII(4), 260-272.

7 Corcoran, Rev. F.V., C.M. (1924, November). Graduation address. The Lorettine, XVIII(4), 273-280.

8 Ritchie, Reverend Paul J., S.T.L. (1926, June). Baccalaureate sermon. The Lorettine, XX(4), 217-223.

9 Schwitalla, Reverend Alphonse M., S.J. (1926, June). Graduation address: The dangers of a college education. The Lorettine, XX(4), 223-228.

10 The Lorettine, XVI(2), August 1921, p. 3.

11 The Lorettine, XXI(4), June 1927, p. 328.

12 The Web, 25(5), Feb. 18, 1949, p. 1.

13 The Web, 25(8), June 4, 1949, p. 1.

14 According to a student thesis written in the 1930s, the only graduates in 1920 were two nuns so the college decided not to have a public ceremony. A private dinner was held instead. (Bersch, Verda. (1934). History of Webster (Loretto) College for the school year Sept. 1, 1919, to Sept. 1, 1920. Unpublished manuscript, Webster College.)