Companies, organizations, businesses etc all use mission statements to define the “entity’s” goals and values. Public and private colleges and universities typically also provide these statements which help potential students, employees, etc catch a glimpse of what the school is all about. I attended Virginia Tech for my undergraduate degree and now again for my PhD; however, I am not going to address VT’s mission statement here. Instead, I looked at a small private liberal arts school and a larger public research school for comparative purposes.
Juniata College, a small private school in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, writes: “Juniata’s mission is to provide an engaging personalized educational experience empowering our students to develop the skills, knowledge and values that lead to a fulfilling life of service and ethical leadership in the global community.” http://www.juniata.edu/about/mission.php
Whereas, Old Dominion University, a public school in Norfolk, Virginia, USA states: “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.” https://www.odu.edu/about/planning/mission-statement
I chose these two institutions because my mom attended Juniata, and I completed my Masters of Science degree at ODU. The dichotomies between liberal arts vs. research schools and private vs. public schools are interesting in and of themselves. Each type of school provides different experiences, which may cater to individuals’ personalities, career goals, and aspirations. Personally, I like Juniata’s statement better than ODU’s, as it gives the impression that the college will assist students in fulfilling their full potentials at a more individual-level. Juniata’s mission statement also states “ethical leadership,” which I think is an important distinction from “leadership” alone. As we discussed in class this week, it is imperative that as students, faculty, and staff, we all uphold high ethical standards. Specifically, the phrase “ethical ambition” hit home to me. We don’t need to step on others’ toes (so to speak) to achieve our dreams, and this mission statement demonstrates that the college strives to ensure that its students understand and apply this sentiment.
Old Dominion’s mission statement seems less personal and more generic and almost a little self-serving with terminology like “strategic”. Obviously, partnerships are imperative to successful educational systems, but the word strategic as used here rubs me the wrong way. This statement also states nothing about ethics, which I find disconcerting. Perhaps the differences in these statements stem from a larger school requiring a more generic mission statement and a small private liberal arts school having more freedom and flexibility in its choice of prose. Although mission statements tend to be rather vague and fairly similar, it is interesting to more closely dissect them for the different nuances. Could make for an interesting literature review paper – mission statement distinctions across different higher education schools.