I chose the following two universities to investigate their mission and vision statements at their respective universities:
1. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA, USA
2. Colorado School of Mines, Golden CO, USA
I chose these universities because I am considering both as a university for my long-term professional goals. For each school, I would like to consider the mission statements with respect to the university’s future plans and goals.
Virginia Tech is in a very small town in rural, southwest Virginia. VT began as a military institution, and over time became accessible to civilian students; today there are significantly more civilians than corps members. VT is a land grant university, and is much more heavily oriented toward engineering and agriculture, which were the main focus of the university at its start.
The Virginia Tech mission statement reads:
“Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life”
Virginia Tech’s mission statement emphasizes a few different pillars of the university: serving, teaching/learning, and research. As a top research institution, I expected them to focus on this in the mission statement. I think that this statement is fairly vague overall. I am not necessarily surprised by this as the university is incredibly diverse in studies, research areas, and even service opportunities. However, as a guiding statement for the university, it outlines that there are four key components of Virginia Tech’s goals: personal growth/opportunity, social and community development, economic competitiveness, and improving quality of life. These four components are still very big picture, but provide the university guidelines for change. I think that the vagueness of these outcomes is intentional, as some of them can be conflicting in nature. I am most surprised by this line in the mission statement: “The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission.” This prioritizes research and publishing as the main mission of the university, which isn’t in itself surprising, however there is no focus on the people building the knowledge, which I do find surprising. I expected there to be a focus on community, as that is the “Hokie way”.
COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES
The Colorado School of Mines began as a school in Golden, Colorado intended to support local miners and their families. At the inception of the university, it was primarily focused on silver and gold mining. Over time, it has evolved to become more focused on sustainability and the environment through energy (not just mining). The tagline for the university is “Earth, Energy, Environment” which echos this transition.
The Colorado School of Mines mission statement reads:
“We, the Colorado School of Mines community, are united by our commitment to our timeless mission of educating and inspiring students from all backgrounds and advancing knowledge and innovations, with the aspiration that our graduates, ideas, actions and innovations will have a transformative impact on individuals and society, leading to shared prosperity and sustainable use of the Earth’s resources.”
Before knowing much about Mines, I was surprised that they had such a strong focus towards individuals and society (people) as a traditionally founded mining school. Upon further investigation, many faculty members and graduate students research service learning, and the students at Mines are very involved in service. I think that this take on mining and energy is refreshing, and to see that the university prioritizes students’ ability to impact society is incredibly impressive at a university scale. To build on this, I look at their core values:
- Inquiry and Innovation
These pillars are a bit vague, but are easily tied back to their mission statement. Overall, I think that their focus on impacting societies and sustaining the Earth is well-tied throughout.