Mission statements tell a lot about an organization regarding its culture and future goals. Definition given in Wikipedia is “a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation.” In the high education context, the service is quite clear – it is education. How is it delivered and what are the most important aspects of an education organization are the specific issues that should be addressed in a mission statement. Mission statements are updated each one to three years (reference). An exploratory study shows that as they are updated, the mission statements seem to be are catching the world trends in higher education, such as becoming a globally recognized institution. Now, let’s take a look at two mission statements from different countries, and see how similar (or different) they are:
Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey (reference)
“METU’s mission is to attain excellence in research, education and public service for society, humanity and nature by nurturing creative and critical thinking, innovation and leadership within a framework of universal values.”
Massachusets Institute of Technology (MIT), USA (reference)
“The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”
METU is a nationally recognized school in Turkey, while MIT is a globally recognized school. This fact comes into play when we look at METU’s mission statement of “attaining excellence” because the excellence will be something that will increase the recognition; while in MIT’s mission statement, “advancing knowledge” implies that MIT’s goal is to maintain its current state, and go with a similar trend.
Another important difference between the mission statements is the main focus. MIT has its focus on education and scholarship that will serve the nation and the world while METU has its concentration on not only education and scholarship, but also public service for society, humanity, and nature. In my opinion, this difference stems from the location of these schools. METU is n a developing country, and for this reason, it aims to contribute to the advancement of the Republic of Turkey. On the other hand, MIT is in the United States, which is one of the most developed countries in the world. Therefore, MIT focuses on not the advancement of the United States, but to serve various needs of the nation.
Shortly, it looks to me like METU has a lot of goals to attain and duties to fulfill, while MIT aims to keep doing what they are already doing with a primary focus on scholarship and relevant research to the world. In the end, the mission statement will always provide us a handful of information about its owner.