Mission statements can be perceived as the goals and priorities of an entity. What an entity stands for and expects can vary depending on what they represent and what influences them. Mission statements are very common in higher education institutions and these have value and significance when it comes to determining the institutions aspirations and the kind of students, faculty and staff they want to enroll and hire. I took the opportunity of this assignment to reflect on the mission statements from institutions I have attended. The two mission statements are from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH). I got my bachelor’s from UPR in Río Piedras, where I majored in Environmental Sciences and I recently finished my master’s in Natural Resources at UNH.
The University of Puerto Rico’s mission statement goes as follows:
“The University of Puerto Rico, as a public institution of higher education, is mandated by law to serve the people of Puerto Rico, consistent with the ideals of a democratic society like ours.
The main mission of the University of Puerto Rico is to achieve the following objectives:
- Transmit and increase knowledge through the arts and sciences, putting this knowledge at the service of the community through its teachers, researchers, other university personnel, students and graduates.
- Contribute to the development, cultivation and enjoyment of the aesthetic and ethical values of culture.
To fulfill this mission, the University must:
- Cultivate the love of knowledge as a way of freedom through the search and discussion of the truth, in an attitude of respect for creative dialogue.
- Preserve, enrich and disseminate the cultural values of the Puerto Rican people and strengthen the awareness of their unity in the common endeavor to democratically resolve their problems.
- Procure the integral formation of the student.
- To fully develop the intellectual and cultural wealth latent in our people, so that the values of intelligence and the spirit of exceptional personalities that emerge in all social sectors, especially those least favored in economic resources, can be put at the service of Puerto Rican society.
- Collaborate with agencies, within their own spheres of action, in the study of Puerto Rico’s problems and be at the forefront in the search for effective solutions to them.
- Bear in mind that because of its character as a University and because of its identification with the ideals of life in Puerto Rico, it is essentially linked to the values and interests of all democratic communities.
Law of the University of Puerto Rico, Law No. 1 of January 20, 1966, as amended.”
Being a native from Puerto Rico and having spent most of my life there allowed me to be exposed to a rich culture and set of traditions that are dominant in the life of any Puerto Rican born and raised on the island. From UPR’s mission statement there are a few words that stand out. Words such as “cultivate“, “enrich“, and “intellectual and cultural wealth” highlight the importance of fostering a sense of community within the students and faculty. The richness and diversity within the Puerto Rican culture is highlighted in the academic formation of its students. UPR’s statement does a good job in making this aspect of their mission stand out. Additionally, the fostering of knowledge or contributing to the intellectual formation of its students emphasizes the eagerness of the institution to benefit and challenge its students intellectually.
On the other hand, we have the mission statement from the University of New Hampshire which states the following:
“The mission of the University System of New Hampshire is to serve the higher educational needs of the people of New Hampshire. The University System strives to assure the availability of appropriate higher educational opportunities to all New Hampshire people; seeks to enroll a diverse student population to enhance educational experiences; and provides programs and activities based on a commitment to excellence. Through its institutions, the University System engages in research which contributes to the welfare of humanity and provides educational resources and professional expertise which benefit the state and its people, the region and the nation. ”
Different from UPR, UNH’s statement is centered towards developing an education that will fit the necessities of its students, assuring that the type of education instructed provides a base of knowledge that benefits their educational experience. Some words that stand out from UNH’s mission statement are: “serve”, “availability”, and “commitment to excellence”.
Although the approaches taken from both institutions towards missions’ statements are different, they highlight a commitment to foster an education that contributes to the well-being of society. Both statements emphasize how important is to give back to the community and the importance of helping others through your knowledge and expertise. When we think about higher education institutions this is a key component that is very present in them. I believe this is due to the community that one builds when attending any of these institutions. Finally, having a sense of belonging in a place is the first thing needed for caring enough about it and therefore, engage and be eager to participate in the different events, discussions and activities that take place at these institutions.