Mission statements: a means to achieving true diversity in Higher Ed?

I started this assignment by comparing Virginia Tech (the institution where I’m pursuing my PhD degree) and Florida International University (where I received my bachelor’s degree). They are actually very similar in terms of specific key words and length but something in particular caught my attention: the word “diverse” in FIU’s statement which is missing from Virginia Tech’s. This was not particularly surprising to me since I can tell, by first-hand experience, that this is an area where these two universities widely differ.

At first I thought it could all be explained by location alone since FIU is located in Miami, Florida, where the population is very diverse, so it’s only natural that the school is committed to serving its diverse local community. Yet I was still curious so I looked up a few different schools and I was surprised by what I found on which schools make mention of diversity efforts and serving a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. It is no surprise that most (if not all, but I didn’t actually look at all of them) minority serving institutions such as HBCUs and HSIs include a statement on diversity as part of their mission; but a lot of other schools both private (The George Washington University, and Georgetown University, among others) and public (Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Virginia, among others) also include diversity as part of their mission statement.

Even though I do not have all the statistics on how these schools fare on their enrollment and retention numbers of underrepresented minorities and international students, it would be interesting to see if the schools that include a commitment to diversity in their mission statements also have a more diverse and inclusive population than those that do not. Regardless of what the numbers say, it is nice to see a wide variety of schools making a strong commitment to promoting diversity and highlighting its importance by including it as part of their mission and vision.

Here are some of the mission statements mentioned above:

Virginia Tech:

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life.

Florida International University:

Florida International University is an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving its students and the diverse population of South Florida. We are committed to high-quality teaching, state-of-the-art research and creative activity, and collaborative engagement with our local and global communities.

Pennsylvania State University:

Penn State is a multicampus public research university that educates students from Pennsylvania, the nation and the world, and improves the well being and health of individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service.

Our instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education offered through both resident instruction and online delivery. Our educational programs are enriched by the cutting edge knowledge, diversity, and creativity of our faculty, students, and staff.

Our research, scholarship, and creative activity promote human and economic development, global understanding, and progress in professional practice through the expansion of knowledge and its applications in the natural and applied sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and the professions.

As Pennsylvania’s land-grant university, we provide unparalleled access and public service to support the citizens of the Commonwealth. We engage in collaborative activities with industrial, educational, and agricultural partners here and abroad to generate, disseminate, integrate, and apply knowledge that is valuable to society.

University of Virginia:

The University of Virginia is a public institution of higher learning guided by a founding vision of discovery, innovation, and development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life. It serves the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world by developing responsible citizen leaders and professionals; advancing, preserving, and disseminating knowledge; and providing world-class patient care.

We are defined by:

  • Our enduring commitment to a vibrant and unique residential learning environment marked by the free and collegial exchange of ideas;
  • Our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect;
  • Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.

Georgetown University:

Founded in 1789 as the nation’s first Catholic institution of higher learning, Georgetown College is committed to the Jesuit traditions of an integrated education and of productive research in the liberal arts, including fine arts, humanities, languages, sciences, and social sciences. The College seeks to expand the imagination, foster the life of the spirit, cultivate lifelong learning, encourage service to God and humanity, and promote respect for diversity in an age of global community.

Utilizing the national and international resources of Washington, DC, in its research and educational missions, this Catholic college encourages learning that transcends the boundaries of the classroom. It affirms the interconnection of teaching and research and fosters a close relationship between faculty and students in pursuit of common goals. As a community, Georgetown College aims to form individuals of integrity who are dedicated to innovation and social justice and prepared to address the challenges of the present and the future in light of the responsibilities of freedom.