Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Chat... What's Important about a University's Mission Statement?

When I think of a University's mission statement, I think of their identity, their purpose, their principles, their contributions to the community and student learning, their core values, their goals, and their foundation in which these elements provide me with a perception of the university, the culture, and the learning atmosphere. In reviewing a University's mission statement, the primary concern isn't with the operational functions or future growth of the institution, but the focus is more on the authenticity of the statement in conveying the importance of the institution, and the reasons why and what they do is significant. We will review and discuss two mission statements from two diverse universities and determine the similarities and differences, identify key concepts that stood out and decide in what manner the mission statement was effective or ineffective in articulating the message.     

University One:

Name - Old Dominion University
Location - City of Norfolk
Country - United States

Mission Statement - Old Dominion University, located in the City of Norfolk in the metropolitan Hampton Roads region of coastal Virginia, is a dynamic public research institution that serves its students and enriches the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world through rigorous academic programs, strategic partnerships, and active civic engagement.

Thoughts: Old Dominion University's (ODU) mission statement is concise and immediately indicates who they are (a dynamic public research institution) and whom they serve/what they do (serves students and enriches the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation and the world). The statement imparts how they serve their students in which are through (rigorous academic programs, strategic partnerships, and active civic engagement). 

The statement intended to convey serval components about the institution, including that it is a research focused institution, is teaching and student-learning centered, and it combines four major functions of the institution, which are learning, teaching, research, and outreach, which creates a holistic environment for collaborative and innovative approach to education and research that stimulates academic and economic growth for the students, internal stakeholders, and the community. Essentially, the statement captured the essence of the institution's core principles in a concise format and implied the purpose of their existence as an institution and establishes a foundation to build upon and maintain.     

University Two:

Name - The George Washington University 
Location - Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Country - United States

 Mission Statement -  The George Washington University, an independent academic institution chartered by the Congress of the United States in 1821, dedicates itself to furthering human well-being. The University values a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity and built upon a foundation of integrity, creativity, and openness to the exploration of new ideas. The George Washington University, centered in the national and international crossroads of Washington, D.C., commits itself to excellence in the creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge. To promote the process of lifelong learning from both global and integrative perspectives, the University provides a stimulating intellectual environment for its diverse students and faculty.

By fostering excellence in teaching, the University offers outstanding learning experiences for full-time and part-time students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in Washington, D.C., the nation, and abroad. As a center for intellectual inquiry and research, the University emphasizes the linkage between basic and applied scholarship, insisting that the practical be grounded in knowledge and theory. The University acts as a catalyst for creativity in the arts, the sciences, and the professions by encouraging interaction among its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the communities it serves. The George Washington University draws upon the rich array of resources from the National Capital Area to enhance its educational endeavors. In return, the University, through its students, faculty, and staff, and alumni, contributes talent and knowledge to improve the quality of life in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

 Thoughts: The Georgia Washington University's (GWU) mission statement is descriptive and informative in explicating the institution's principles, values, beliefs, and purpose. The statement is prideful in immersing themselves in the community, offering the breadth of education, the aspect that students receive transferability of knowledge, integrated learning, and students receive an enriching learning experience through creativity and innovation. The statement implies a learning environment that is centered on teaching and learning with it's stakeholders in the forefront and providing standards that they accept as honorable, appropriate, and respected.  

In conclusion, these two different mission statements are similar in effectively capturing the essence of their core principles, values, educational goals, and learning standards, but differ in their philosophies navigating and influences directing the academic experience. ODU placed much significance on learning, teaching, research, and outreach, and GWU focused more on the academic aspect and the learning experience in which GWU was more student-learning centered. 

Overall, the mission statement is a vital piece of information in which is the appearance or representation of the institution prior to meeting personally as well as an influential element to prospective students, internal/external stakeholders, and to the community in which they serve. Both mission statements were lucidly communicated and effectively presented the overall environment and culture for their respected institutions, which I hope to join their lustrous teaching and learning community once I complete my doctorate.