Mission Statement of Virginia Tech and Harvard College

I’ve been a hokie for 3 years, but never thought about the mission statement of Virginia Tech. I love Virginia Tech and this assignment brings a very good opportunity for me to get to know its mission. Being very curious, I searched on the VT website and copy and paste it here as shown below:

“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.”

The link is: http://www.president.vt.edu/mission_vision/mission.html

When I was very young, a Chinese girl student became very famous all over my country (I’m from China) just because she got the admission from Harvard University.  Now, 3 years after I came to USA, Harvard is still the best university.  When I was searching its mission statement, I found that there was no formal one for Harvard University but there’s one for Harvard College that is only for the undergraduate program:

“Harvard College adheres to the purposes for which the Charter of 1650 was granted: “The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the … youth of this country….” In brief: Harvard strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. To these ends, the College encourages students to respect ideas and their free expression, and to rejoice in discovery and in critical thought; to pursue excellence in a spirit of productive cooperation; and to assume responsibility for the consequences of personal actions. Harvard seeks to identify and to remove restraints on students’ full participation, so that individuals may explore their capabilities and interests and may develop their full intellectual and human potential. Education at Harvard should liberate students to explore, to create, to challenge, and to lead. The support the College provides to students is a foundation upon which self-reliance and habits of lifelong learning are built: Harvard expects that the scholarship and collegiality it fosters in its students will lead them in their later lives to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society.”

The link is: http://www.harvard.edu/faqs/mission-statement

Comparing these two mission statements, both statements have a stress on new knowledge. Both universities encourage their faculty and students to create or discover new knowledge, which provides a foundation for the advancement of current knowledge and can lead to innovations or even revolutions  in different areas. Also, both universities stress on serving for the whole society. Each university is a small unit in the whole big society like a part in a big machine. The university cannot function without the society. If the stability and economics of a society is unsatisfactory, the education there won’t be good. In turn, universities should take responsibilities to cooperate with industries, to serve the community, and to advance the society.

What is different from these two statements is, the  statement of Virginia Tech focuses more on the university role in the society while that of Harvard College focuses more on students’ development, i.e., more student-centered. Harvard seeks student’s full participation, free expression, critical thinking, and full intellectual development.