Mission Statement

Old Dominion University 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.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public landgrant 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.

I chose to compare both Virginia Tech and Old Dominion because I have attended both of the schools. Virginia Tech is a land grant state school with in a rural area. Virginia Tech is a research college that enrolls around 37,000 students. Old Dominion is in Norfolk which one of the larger cities Virginia, and they enroll around 25,000 students. A huge difference is in the student populations. Virginia Tech has a younger student population and supports a huge core cadet community. Old Dominion supports a large veteran population which gives an older student population.

Virginia Tech’s mission statement is extremely expansive, encompassing a high degree of collegiate aspects for the reader to digest. It indicates that the student will internally grow from their studies and have a competitive chance of earning a high paying career. Old Dominion has very little flare in their speech, indicating what the student body will have expected of them. Since ODU deals more in a direct veteran and active-duty population of older students, it is more prudent for them to be direct because they will want to read the frill of Virginia Tech statement less.


Hi Brooke,

Great post comparing two intrastate schools. I agree more than I disagree, but I think the reason for this assignment is to engage in dialogue so I’m going to throw out some minor disagreements in the hope that it generates a response. Overall, I agree with you that less is more and ODU’s mission statement is certainly more succinct than VA Tech’s. You also point out that the goals contained in VA Tech’s mission statement are expansive. I agree, it seems like it is trying to do a lot – perhaps over-promising and under-delivering when we all know that’s the University of Pittsburgh’s job (I’m sorry, I always hated Pitt growing up).

However, ODU’s mission statement is full of flare itself in the form of adjective abuse and I think that that detracts a little bit from what they’re trying to say. I’m specifically referring to four adjectives: dynamic, rigorous, strategic, and active. In all of theses cases it seems like ODU is trying to spruce up something that is inherently boring.

“Dynamic” research institution: the word “dynamic” can be taken a few different ways. On one hand, a static curriculum that doesn’t respond to changing conditions as society evolves isn’t good. On the other hand, a school that is *constantly* changing can be problematic too. I think that’s especially true from a research perspective because some fields, like international relations, benefit from a sustained focus on the same problem over time.

“Rigorous” academic programs: my objection to this is that I think rigor and higher learning should go without saying. Are any colleges bragging about the lack of rigor in their academic departments? If so, I’d like to have some words with my high school guidance counselor because that’s where I should’ve gone.

“Strategic” partnerships: using this word “strategic” is just a huge pet peeve of mine. In my experience, I’ve heard it refer to 1) nuclear weapons, 2) a level of warfare and 3) a level of analysis – sometimes within the same paragraph. It has become a word that can mean anything, and in this context I really don’t know how ODU is using it other than to mean “important,” I think.

Active civic engagement: similar critique to “rigorous” above but, in comparison, this one isn’t as big of a concern as the rest of the adjectives because (as Katrina pointed out in her post on the U of Puerto Rico) there is an important role for universities to play in the community. When that link is lost its tough to get back, so civic engagement is a good think and it is better to be active than passive.

Again, great post and I think you’re right that a shorter mission statement is more useful than saying your mission is to do “all of the things.” But precision is important too. Thoughts?