Mission Statement

Hello all!

As this is my first post, I think it is only fitting to discuss university mission statements (as these mission statements essentially describe my mission towards academia). I have picked out two university mission statements that really stand out to me in a way that I can deeply connect with.

Washington & Lee University

“Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students’ capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”

Washington & Lee University is a private liberal arts university in Virginia, USA. The part of this mission statement that stood out to me the most was developing “students’ capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely”. I believe critical thinking is one of the most important skills a student, scientist, professional, etc. can have. The added bonus of thinking freely and humanely makes this mission all the better!


Cornell University

“Cornell is a private, Ivy League university and the land-grant university for New York state. Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community. Cornell also aims, through public service, to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of New York and others around the world.”

Cornell University is a private research university located in New York, USA. This mission stands out to me mainly because of its focus on knowledge and the good research and knowledge can bring to the world. This is important to me as an educator because it really emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of knowledge.


Math Pun: What is purple and commutes? An Abelian Grape!
(Look into Abelian Groups in Abstract Algebra for an explanation of this post’s math pun)

6 thoughts on “Mission Statement

  1. valestudentvt says:

    I understand why you connected with these universities’ mission statements. What I liked about the statements is that they consistently include service. I think all universities, private and public, should prepare their students to work with and for the community. The Washington & Lee University focuses on the students’ learning process and their future professional life, which is consistent with the mission statements of other private universities. What caught my attention is that Cornell University is private and also a land-grant university. I thought that only public universities were land-grant.

  2. angethomas says:

    For someone who only looked at public land-grant universities, it was refreshing seeing these two statements. I really like how Washington and Lee’s statement was specific in saying it provides a liberal arts education that develops students capacity to think. That sends a clear message to anyone looking into coming to that school, that they play more of a facilitator role when it comes to knowledge sharing, rather than just teaching.

  3. Jocelyn Hotter says:

    I found it really interesting that Washington & Lee included ‘thinking freely’ in their mission statement. It is not something I have seen before, and thought it to be very up-and-coming. I also noticed that Cornell’s statement said ‘Cornell’ quite often, which is also unique compared to other statements I have seen. I think it fits with the university and the elite tone they give off.

  4. leegill says:

    Thank you for your post. I really liked your analysis on the mission statements between Washington & Lee University and Cornell University. I also believe the difference comes from one being a liber arts college whereas Cornell is a mainly graduate research focused university. The main focus of liberal arts college is on undergraduate teaching and exposure to a wide variety of educational fields where Cornell seems like they focus on serving community of New York as they are a land grant college. Also, the research aspect is seen prominent in their mission statement.

  5. sptiller says:

    Like almost everyone so far has said, I really appreciate Washington Lee’s focus on critical thinking. It is something that is often seen as automatically resulting from having gone to college, but this is not necessarily the case. I think we have to be more intentional about critical thinking as a focus area because it is not something that happens by just offering instruction in a number of subjects. One could, could theoretically do very well in college, but never be instructed on how evaluate information and form one’s own opinions, using logic and reasoning.

    Something that stood out about Cornell’s mission statement was the focus of expanding ” a broad culture of inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.” I think this is unique and much needed addition. Universities should seek to spread the type of dialogue, thinking, and evaluation that occurs within its walls out into the community.

  6. fffinch says:

    When I read Washington and Lee’s statement, I could not help but compare their current professed mission to the historical knowledge that we have about their two namesakes. I don’t think it’s a tendentious statement on my part to say that the school’s namesakes probably would not agree with most of that mission statement. This problem is not just related to Washington and Lee, of course; Cecil Rhodes of the Rhodes Scholarship was an architect of apartheid, George Mason made his fortune in large part from slavery, et cetera et cetera.

    I don’t think an institution is bound by its history or incapable of change, obviously. I just have a hard time reading such a mission statement considering the name of the school because naming an institution after an individual is to honor him or her.

    As for the text of the mission statement itself, the call to think “humanely” struck me – I had yet to see that wording in any other mission statement. I have to reflect more on what exactly that means: to go about academic study with an attitude of compassion? To make the end goal of your study to better other people’s lives in some way? I do think that’s helpful and productive.

    I can’t help but mention that every time W&L gets brought up in conversation, the first think that comes to mind is “They still haven’t changed that name?”.

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