About

News

The Webb Schools of Moral Clarity

Taylor Stockdale
Like many of you, I have to admit, I have scandal fatigue. The daily headlines continue to shock and disturb, and recently hit very close to home. The college admissions debacle that rocked the world of higher education last month, also shook the world of secondary prep schools. Several editions ago, in the WEBB magazine, I referenced the selective college admission process in America as a game of sorts. Not a fun game or in any way positive, but rather as an insidious game of rankings, superficial bolstering, all with high-minded applicants hanging in the balance. Many people responded to me that they agreed: there must be a better way.
 
I am not writing today to pass judgement, but rather to have us all remember the importance of certain values as an educational community—values that can guide our thinking and give us a foundation to make the right choices even when they are inconvenient and difficult.
 
Having just returned from a series of Webb gatherings across the country and around the world, I was reminded how easy it is to refer to “the college list” in order to quantify our schools’ success. Everyone asks to see it. Everyone wants to compare our list to other national boarding schools. So, I’ll say it here once again, while we have every reason to be enormously proud of our outcomes at Webb, we still shine too bright a light on the “elite” colleges—especially when we know that achieving real success is about finding the right fit.
 
By finding the right fit, I am NOT ONLY talking about finding a place where a student can develop their passions, but more importantly, where he or she can find a professor or coach who will inspire and challenge that student. It’s not about where you go, but what you make happen when you get there. The research on college outcomes is clear on this—it is far better to stand out in a college community that represents your best fit than to be mediocre (and largely unhappy) in the wrong place. Frank Bruni writing in the New York Times summed up the research this way: “The game changers include establishing a deep connection with a mentor, taking on a sustained academic project and playing a significant part in a campus organization.” 
 
When sitting with alumnus Louis Mayberg ’80 in Washington D.C. last month, we were reflecting on the recent college admission scandal. As he spoke he used the term moral clarity, and told me how important he believed it was in today’s world.  When Louis was leaving Webb for college, he had a number of good choices. He ultimately decided on George Washington University, which back then was a lesser known DC neighbor to Georgetown. Louis chose George Washington because he felt a connection. He went there, thrived, and when he graduated pursued a career in the financial services industry. Actually, he did more than that. He innovated the staid world of mutual fund companies by creating an alternative—he started and nurtured the industry—co-founding ProShares/ ProFunds, the global leader of leveraged and inverse funds. He also hired several of his GW professors to work with him in building his company. The net result is he has a George Washington degree on his wall, and a lifetime full of professional, personal and philanthropic achievements.
 
Louis is one of many examples of a Webb alumni and alumnae who have chosen well, adhered to their values, and achieved moral clarity along the way. As Louis reminded me, there are many opportunities in life to take short cuts, to make a wrong turn. What he learned at Webb, and through his devotion to and practice of his religious faith, is to avoid the short cut—to do the right thing whether anyone is watching or not. For me, Louis himself embodies moral clarity.
 
As I say to the Webb community often, we are by no means a perfect place. We have our own history, our own flaws, our own faults. We work on them every day. With all that said though, let me close with this. First, I wholeheartedly agree with Frank Bruni when he says, “where you go to college is NOT ultimately who you are.” Fit over prestige makes for a happier and better experience. And second, of course, we are proud of our graduates’ college achievements, but our goal at Webb is to impart the honor code, our “North Star,” into each of them so that they will succeed the right way over a lifetime regardless of where they spent their fleeting college years.
 
 
Taylor B. Stockdale
Head of Schools
 
 
Back

Read More News

Alumni News

List of 4 news stories.

  • 2019 Alumni Award Recipients

    One of the best ways to fully appreciate a Webb education is to look at the lives and achievements of our alumni. Each year, we honor a group of alumni for their accomplishments since graduation and pay tribute to their continued commitment to the mission and success of Webb. These awards recognize distinguished graduates who reflect the character and leadership qualities developed at Webb.
    Read More
  • Natasha Behl'00

    "Are you a feminist?"

    In her TEDx talk at TEDxASUWest, Natasha Behl '00 begins with a simple question: "Are you a feminist?"
    Read More
  • Many Thanks for Your Support!

    Thank you to the 1,500 alumni, parents, past parents, grandparents and friends who enabled Webb to end the 2018-19 Webb Fund year successfully on June 30. Your generosity helped The Webb Fund to raise over $1.9 million, plus additional support for endowment and capital improvements, bringing total gifts to $7.9 million, including 13 new estate gifts, which has become an ever-increasing and important part of our advancement program. Over 799 alumni, spanning nine decades, participated with gifts received from nearly every class between 1937 and 2018. Thank you for your contributions!
    Read More
  • Summertime at the Alf Museum

    Summer is a busy time at the Alf museum. During the first half of June, a small crew comprised of museum staff and Bob Stoddard ’15 closed out the Cripe Site in southern Utah. This quarry was discovered by Jeff Cripe ’08 back in 2005 and has been the museum’s main dig site ever since. 
    Read More
Archive

Webb News

List of 4 news stories.

  • Many Thanks for Your Support!

    Thank you to the 1,500 alumni, parents, past parents, grandparents and friends who enabled Webb to end the 2018-19 Webb Fund year successfully on June 30. Your generosity helped The Webb Fund to raise over $1.9 million, plus additional support for endowment and capital improvements, bringing total gifts to $7.9 million, including 13 new estate gifts, which has become an ever-increasing and important part of our advancement program. Over 799 alumni, spanning nine decades, participated with gifts received from nearly every class between 1937 and 2018. Thank you for your contributions!
    Read More
  • Honor and Moral Courage

    Christopher Michno
    Mention the word “honor” in a crowded room and you are likely to suffer quizzical glances followed by silence. Honor, to many, seems an awkward, unfashionable, even antiquated concept—something to contemplated in private or through the scrim of heroic fiction, like the blood feuds of the Capulets and Montagues, or the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons.
     
    Yet, Head of Schools Taylor Stockdale contends, there is something important to be gleaned from the discussion of honor, something that has been missing from our cultural climate, broadly, and in education for some time—a focus on moral clarity, of discerning, very simply, right from wrong. Stockdale insists such clarity is possible even though it doesn’t always come naturally. “You have to work at it,” but the benefits, he adds, is that moral clarity allows you to make good decisions.
    Read More
  • 22-1/2 Minutes with Blake Johnson ’95

    Talking to entrepreneur Blake Johnson about The Webb Schools makes for an easy interview because his answer to almost any question about Webb’s impact on his personal life, his business acumen, even his day-to-day comportment, is a resounding, “everything!”
    Read More
  • CASE Circle of Excellence Award: Gold Winner


    The Webb Schools is one of only two educational institutions (schools and colleges/universities) in the United States to be awarded the Council for the Advancement of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Award Gold for emerging fundraising programs in 2019.
     
    The award citation highlights Webb’s dedication to donor stewardship, combined fundraising success over three years (the most in school history), and a variety of excellent programming and publications across the board—including the production and translation of several important pieces into Chinese.
    Read More
Archive
The Webb Schools Boarding Preparatory School California Private School Financial Aid Paleontology College Placement Top Academics Faculty Ph.D Community Fun