President Michel Message to Alumni & Friends:

Greetings to all alumni and friends of Webb.

Although COVID-19 makes us do things a little differently, many exciting initiatives have been undertaken at Webb in the past year. A few of these initiatives are described below. As always, we look forward to receiving your ideas on how we can enhance Webb’s academic program and student life experience. In this message, you will find a link to our draft Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan. We encourage you to send us your comments.  

Webb’s DEI Plan

Under the leadership of Webb Trustee Dr. George Campbell, the DEI Committee developed a draft DEI Plan which will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for final approval at its May 21st meeting. Please email any comments and suggestions you may have to by Wednesday, May 12th. The DEI Committee will meet early next week to consider all input and modify the plan prior to Board submittal. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Webb is one of the few colleges in the nation with 100% of students residing on campus and attending in-person classes this academic year. Furthermore, we are perhaps the only college to not have a single student contact COVID during either semester. A few students were infected with COVID during the holidays and their winter internships, but all returned to campus in good health.

We are pleased with the strong commitment to following COVID safety measures demonstrated by students, faculty, and staff. These COVID protocols included restrictions on travel, social distancing and wearing masks, and enhanced cleaning/disinfection practices. When the governor of NY State announced on April 6th that individuals over the age of 16 were eligible for vaccines, we promised to host an ice cream social once 95% of the student body received their first COVID vaccine. The response was amazing. Within three weeks, we were all enjoying ice cream in Cuneo Courtyard on a beautiful spring afternoon. I would like to extend a special shout-out to the sophomores who are now 100% vaccinated and to the senior class leadership that helped make this happen!

This impressive success in securing vaccines together with declining infection rates on Long Island has allowed us to begin relaxing some of our COVID-19 protocols. We are hopeful that campus life will return close-to-normal for the upcoming fall semester.

Ice Cream Social

Commencement Exercises

We are pleased to announce that the Class of 2021 commencement will take place on campus on June 12th. Students will be restricted to six guests and there will be mask wearing and safe distancing requirements as mandated by NY State, but otherwise commencement exercises and the associated events will be much like past years. Karrie Trauth, recently named as the global head of shipping for Shell Oil, will be our commencement speaker and honorary doctorate recipient.

Unfortunately, the Class of 2020 was unable to have an in-person graduation due to COVID-19 restrictions. We are pleased that these graduates will be returning to campus on September 18th to celebrate their commencement! 

Our Student Volunteers

In recent years, our students have been extraordinarily generous in their volunteer support of Webb and the surrounding community. These initiatives range from Engineering Day when our students introduce middle school students to engineering concepts to purchasing food and preparing meals at a local homeless shelter. Although many of these volunteer efforts were curtailed this year, last Friday afternoon 75 of our students performed much-needed maintenance work at the adjacent Welwyn Preserve and Holocaust Center. Tasks included picking up litter throughout the 200-acre park, clearing trails of fallen trees, and rebuilding damaged infrastructure. Congratulation to all who participated in this activity! Based on emails received from the Trustees of Welwyn Preserve, their work was much appreciated. View the entire photo album on Smugmug.

 Walking bridge before and after reconstruction and students clearing trails.

Infrastructure at Webb

The Couch Academic Center was completed just in time, providing the space needed to conduct in-person classes while maintaining safe distancing. The repurposing of classrooms to dormitories in Stevenson Taylor Hall is now complete. Students are scheduled to occupy these beautiful climate-controlled dorm rooms in the fall.

A wheelchair lift has been installed in Rosenblatt Gallery, providing ADA access between STH and the Couch Academic Center as well as the Henry Auditorium. Installation of a new ADA compliant elevator in STH will be finished in the next few weeks.

We have made good progress sprucing up campus grounds. Over 300 tons of stone were placed around the pier to provide protection against winter storms. We are currently pouring a new concrete cap over the length of the pier. In the next few weeks, we will install fencing on the west side of the pier. We have resurfaced and planted grass on Thorpe field, installed sprinklers and a new drainage system, and planted oak and maple trees adjacent to the field.

With gratitude for all you do for Webb!

Keith Michel
President, Webb Institute