Two Institutions, Two Missions, Two Countries

As part of the Future Professoriate class assignment, students were asked to find and comment on the mission statements of two higher education institutes. I chose The Universidad Nacional de Colombia, UNAL (Colombia) and Johns Hopkins University, JHU (USA).

Universidad Nacional De Colombia (Colombia)

The UNAL is the largest public University in Colombia, it was first established in Bogota (Colombia’s capital city) in 1867. Currently it has seven more campuses across the country. Their Mission and Vision statements were easy to find under “The University” main menu. The fact that they have Spanish and English versions of their website was actually a great surprise. Although not all the pages are in English, those identifying the University’s core principles and history are. The Mission of the UNAL taken directly from their website on 9/11/2017 is:

The Universidad Nacional de Colombia promotes equal access to the Colombian education system; it provides the largest offering of academic programs and trains competent and socially responsible professionals. It contributes to the development and re-significance of the Nation project; it studies and enriches the cultural, natural and environmental country’s heritage. As it, assists to the scientific, technological, cultural and artistic order, with academic and research autonomy

What I like about the UNAL’s mission is its emphasis on contributing to the project of Colombia, as a nation. Through the multiple academic programs offered, this institution could truly play an important role in the development of the country’s policies and help to shape Colombia’s future. The mission speaks of an interdisciplinary institution, even if the word itself is not included, the UNAL acknowledges the importance of scientific, technological, cultural and artistic contributions.

Johns Hopkins University (USA)

JHU is a research University established in 1876 in the United States. It is a private institution which main campus is in Baltimore, MD, but has spread to three continents with a campus in Italy and another one in China. JHU’s mission has been preserved since it’s foundation in 1876, it reads:

To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world

In contrast to the UNAL’s mission, JHU’s is “shorter and simpler”, and yet it sounds more powerful and deep. Probably this simplicity is what makes it more easy to assimilate and understand to me. Thinking about it, and without having look at mission statements from other institutions in both countries. The way these statements are written seem to resemble aspects of each culture. To be clear, the UNAL’s mission is very detailed, which is something that I often see in a Colombian. From my perspective, we tend to provide reasons for almost everything. My long explanation here can be taken as an example. On the other side, I have found that people from the United States tend to be more direct, are not use to give explanations and don’t require them either.

So, although my original intent was not to compare them, I have to say that JHU’s mission really embraces what Trout and Rivkin illustrate in their book “The Power of Simplicity: A Management Guide…“, simple solutions and direct messages tend to work better.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Two Institutions, Two Missions, Two Countries

  1. kjulmer

    Great post. I, too, like the shorter, more concise statements that really focus on the main goal of the university. It was very interesting to me to think about what mission statements actually do for a university’s community.

  2. Carlos F Mantilla P

    Hi Kristin, thanks for the comment… I think that as students, even if we don’t initially read the mission of the University we are attending, or are unaware of it in the literal sense, the impact on the University’s community ends up, in most cases, touching a majority of its members, just like you said. Especially when directives, faculty and staff strive to live by the University’s mission.

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