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Mission Statements – Marketing vs. Mission

I selected the two mission statements where I received my undergraduate and masters degree, Morgan State University (MSU) and Columbia University (CU).

MSU:

Morgan State University serves the community, region, state, nation, and world as an intellectual and creative resource by supporting, empowering and preparing high-quality, diverse graduates to lead the world. The University offers innovative, inclusive, and distinctive educational experiences to a broad cross-section of the population in a comprehensive range of disciplines at the baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree levels. Through collaborative pursuits, scholarly research, creative endeavors, and dedicated public service, the University gives significant priority to addressing societal problems, particularly those prevalent in urban communities.

CU:

Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions. It expects all areas of the university to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

My Thoughts: Being that MSU is an HBCU, I expected to see wording that identified their primary audience/client [African Americans]. If you didn’t know any better, MSU’s mission statement would be a standard statement for a TWI (Traditionally White Institutions).  I guess the use of the word “urban” was supposed to capture the minority mandate.  Unlike MSU’s statement, CU’s statement reads as a sales pitch.  If I were to search for a place to learn, CU’s angle would lure me in more so than MSU’s approach.  CU’s statement clearly mentions that the university is located in New York City.  If your institution exists in such a place, you want to make that known to the reader.  MSU is located in a less desirable place, Baltimore, MD, and there was no mention of the city nor the state.

This exercise raises one question that I welcome others to try and answer:  Can a university strike the right balance between stating their mission and marketing the institution?

 

 

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