MISSION STATEMENT: A Comparative Analysis Of Universities Around The World

Mission Statement is a topic that I was not explicitly aware of before I heard about it at one of my graduate school courses “Preparing Future Professoriate”. Through this blog I wish to address a few questions that revolve around academic mission statements and mission statements in general:

  1. What is a Mission Statement?
  2. What does a Mission Statement look like?
  3. What does a University’s Mission Statement look like?
  4. How do the Mission Statements’ of universities from two different parts of the world compare?

 

What is a Mission Statement?

According to Wikipedia,

“A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation.”

As stated above, mission statement is a high-level description of the goals of the firm and the firm itself. In some cases, it also reflects the founding principles of the institution and their ideologies to move forward.

If you want to know more about mission statements and how they differ from vision and values statements, have a look at the video below:

What does a Mission Statement look like?

Now that we know what exactly is a mission statement, let’s take a look at a few mission statements:

Amazon’s mission statement is quoted below:

“We aim to be Earth’s most customer centric company. Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success.”

As you can cipher, Amazon’s mission statement is directly in-line with the firm’s goal of reaching out to customers globally and having them at the core of their operations. True to its mission, the services provided by Amazon have created a lot of value for customers all around the globe through e-commerce, cloud based services and various other associated businesses.

 

What does a University’s Mission Statement look like?

To introduce you to academic mission statements, I would like to take Virginia Tech as an example. Virginia Tech is land-grant university primarily located in the south-western part of Virginia, USA, founded in 1872 with a current enrollment of more than 36,000 students. Let’s look at Virginia Tech’s mission statement and see how it differs from a corporate mission statement:

 

 

“Inspired by our land-grant identity and guided by our motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is an inclusive community of knowledge, discovery, and creativity dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world.”

The mission statement starts with identifying the university as a land-grant university which is a reflection on its foundation principles and signifying a connection to the common principle of a land-grant university. Virginia Tech was founded as a land-grant university in 1872 and has since expanded its horizons by raising funds with the federally controlled lands endowed to the university and this aspect is clearly visible in their mission statement.

The next part of the statement focuses on the motto of the university “Ut Prosim(That I May Serve)” proclaiming the goal of serving the society. According to me, using the university motto as part of the mission statement is  a great decision and is definitely the highlight of the mission statement because a motto is usually the core value that drives the institution. Also, in this case, giving back to the society is directly in-line with the land-grant categorization of Virginia Tech.

The statement also talks about inclusivity, portraying how Virginia Tech brings individuals with diverse demographics under one roof. Inclusivity according to me is a very important aspect of any university because diverse individuals bring unique talents to the plate, leading to wholesome education.

Knowledge, discovery and creativity are key aspects to a university and hence a part of the above mission statement. Emanating knowledge to students, making breakthrough discoveries and promoting creativity are among the pillars of foundation of an educational institution and Virginia Tech has proven its mettle in all these areas.

Last but not the least, the statement mentions the human aspect where it talks about improving the quality of life and the human condition for members of its community and the world. The statement indicates that the research that Virginia Tech delivers is aimed at the betterment of humankind and signifies a connection to people.

 

How do the Mission Statements’ of universities from two different parts of the world compare?

To compare two different mission statements from geographically and culturally diverse parts of the word, I would like to bring into light IISc, Bengaluru, a public university of higher education and research from the southern part of India. The Indian Institute of Science(IISc) was founded in 1909, was granted the deemed to be university status in 1958 and the Institute of Eminence status in 2018. Let’s take a look at their mission statement and figure out how it differs from Virginia Tech’s mission statement:

Our mission is to realize our vision by:

Imparting world-class higher education in an environment of fundamental and applied research in science and engineering

Conducting high-impact research, generating new knowledge, and disseminating this knowledge through publications in top journals and conferences

  • Applying faculty expertise towards the success of national science and technology initiatives

Applying deep knowledge in various areas to create knowhow and developing such knowhow for utilization by industry and society

 

Let’s talk about the above mission statement with regards to Virginia Tech’s mission statement and see how these academic institutions from different parts of the world differ in their goals and ideology.

Virginia Tech started off by identifying themselves as a land-grant university, whereas IISc does not identify itself with any such category(for example public, deemed etc.). Instead IISc starts off with imparting higher education in the light of fundamental and applied research as their priority. Virginia Tech does not specifically focus on imparting education, rather it mentions “knowledge” as a key word to express that sentiment.

Moving forward with IISc’s statement it seems to be more detailed towards specific operations such as high-impact research, publications, journals and conferences which to me does not sound great since it is too detailed and already implied as part of research operations. On the other hand, Virginia Tech keeps its statement as a high level description, with a slight insight into its motto.

IISc recognizes faculty as an integral part of its system and their knowledge as indispensable to the growth of the university, its students and the overall body of research. This aspect of the statement I feel is an ode to the Indian philosophy of a teacher(Guru) being next to god and represents cultural incorporation. On the contrary, Virginia Tech does not talk about its constituent members giving equal importance to every member that is part of the university.

At the end, both mission statements focus on the prime motive of society or mankind benefiting from their research. Both universities may be different in terms of how they view operational, administrative and research problems, but they stand united in terms of giving back to the society in whatever ways they can.

References:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Institute_of_Science
3. https://www.iisc.ac.in/vision-and-mission/#:~:text=IISc%20aims%20to%20be%20among,India's%20wealth%20creation%20and%20social
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_statement
5. https://www.aboutamazon.co.uk/uk-investment/our-mission#:~:text=Our%20mission%20is%20to%20continually,Earth's%20most%20customer%20centric%20company.
6. https://vt.edu/about/facts-about-virginia-tech.html#:~:text=Mission%20Statement,Virginia%20and%20throughout%20the%20world.