I’ve decided to look at two mission statements from different ends of the higher education spectrum. On one side I have NC State University, a public, land grant university with almost 35,000 students, and on the other I have Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, a community college with 22,000 students. Both schools serve a large number of students in the state of North Carolina, but their mission statements are very different:
As a research-extensive land-grant university, North Carolina State University is dedicated to excellent teaching, the creation and application of knowledge, and engagement with public and private partners. By uniting our strength in science and technology with a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of disciplines, NC State promotes an integrated approach to problem solving that transforms lives and provides leadership for social, economic, and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.
RCCC improves lives and builds community through public higher education and workforce development.
If you look only at the size of the mission statements, it is obvious there is a difference. RCCC remained very short and to the point while NCSU is a more comprehensive overview. I wonder if this has to do with marketing the university. A large research institution will have more widespread competition and is trying to attract students on a global scale, while a community college is more locally focused and probably has less competition for students and faculty. This is just a guess on my part and I would be interested if there are any other thoughts on the way the mission statements are presented from a marketing standpoint.
Looking a bit deeper, NCSU clearly has an emphasis on science and technology, having a global perspective, and including industry in their approach to education. RCCC has a very clear message in that they want to support the community and develop a workforce. In a way I almost prefer the straightforward approach because it’s more accessible. The NCSU mission can come across as trying too hard. The use of language is almost intimidating, and I can tell they’re trying to impress me. However, these differences mesh well with the purposes of the universities. A utilitarian mission for a school focused on local students getting an education and employment. A more elaborate mission for a school looking to make it on the world’s stage.