University Mission Statements as Student Recruitment Tools

The state of Michigan has 93 colleges and universities [1]. The two most well-known are the 2 largest,  Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  These two institutions are 2 of the 3 tier 1 research institutions according to the Carnegie classification of higher education and are typically the top choice of most high schoolers in the state of Michigan. After the big 2 comes the 3 Mid-Atlantic Conference universities all of which are R2 universities, Central, Eastern, and Western Michigan Universities. These 5 schools are the universities that most high schoolers strive to attend, unless they want to be an engineer- then they want Michigan Institute of Technology or Kettering University. Michigan also has many private- religious colleges and community colleges. Growing up gaining a bachelors degree was a given for most of my peers but the question was where you were going to go from what seemed like an overwhelming number of options. For me the question came down to Michigan State University or Central Michigan University- with my decision being swayed by Michigan State’s land grant/ College of Agriculture status. This blog prompt was the perfect excuse to revisit my top 2 university choices.

Central Michigan University (CMU) is a research institution with approximately 21,750 students in roughly 300 undergraduate, graduate, and online programs [2]. CMU has mission and vision statements along with a list of core values [3] 12/2/10 :

At Central Michigan University, we are a community committed to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, discovery, and creativity. We provide student-centered education and foster personal and intellectual growth to prepare students for productive careers, meaningful lives, and responsible citizenship in a global society.   

In contrast Michigan State University (MSU) is a tier one research institution and a land grant university- well known for its agricultural programs. Approximately 49,000 students are enrolled as of fall 2019 in 200 different programs [4]. MSU has a general university mission statement and each program/office has its own mission statement subsidiary to the general one [5] 4/08/08:

As a public, research-intensive, land-grant university funded in part by the state of Michigan, our mission is to advance knowledge and transform lives by:

  • providing outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to promising, qualified students in order to prepare them to contribute fully to society as globally engaged citizen leaders

  • conducting research of the highest caliber that seeks to answer questions and create solutions in order to expand human understanding and make a positive difference, both locally and globally

  • advancing outreach, engagement, and economic development activities that are innovative, research-driven, and lead to a better quality of life for individuals and communities, at home and around the world

Comparing the two universities mission statements its seems that MSU is focused on what tangible things it will accomplish the students graduated and research published. In contrast CMU talks more about the development of the community and members it hopes to create. I also think its interesting that CMU has a vision statement and lists core values all of which connect back to how they strive to achieve their mission statement. MSU doesn’t have a vision statement or lists of values; however, the mission statements of specific colleges often have underlying vision and core value statements [6]. I wonder if because CMU is smaller than MSU it adopted more a more community focused statement to try to recruit students who want to have a more personal experience. To investigate this I looked at 2 other universities: Michigan Institute of Technology (MiTech) [7,8] and the University of Michigan (UofM) [9]. MiTech has mission, vision, and core values statements as well as a goals list similar to CMU. UofM has only a mission statement listed and the individual colleges have their own statements [10] again similar to MSU. UofM and MSU tend to rely more on their academic, research, and athletics prestige to recruit students but MiTech and CMU likely have to try other ways to recruit students.



One Reply to “University Mission Statements as Student Recruitment Tools”

  1. I agree that it is interesting that CMU introduces itself as a “community” whereas MSU introduces itself as a “public, research-intensive, land-grant university.” The parallels you found between UofM / MSU and MiTech / CMU were also really insightful.

    In particular, though, I really liked how you set the scene for your discussion of mission statements by first describing the landscape of public, higher education institutions in Michigan. That context made it easy to understand the parallels you drew in your later analysis. Nice work 🙂

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