For this assignment, I examined mission statements from two universities: the University of California and Radford University.
The University of California is a large research university system with several associated labs and medical centers. Across 10 campuses spread throughout the state of California, this public university system serves nearly 239,000 students (1).
According to the University of California Academic Plan (2), their mission is:
“…to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge. That obligation, more specifically, includes undergraduate education, graduate and professional education, research, and other kinds of public service, which are shaped and bounded by the central pervasive mission of discovering and advancing knowledge.”
This mission statement highlights the university’s role in accumulating and sharing knowledge. While it would be expected that a large research university would build its mission statement around research and the associated knowledge, I was surprised that this statement included little else in terms of key values. A more detailed description of the university’s commitments to teaching, research, and public service is included on the same web page. These descriptions seem to be more focused on the societal benefits and services provided by the university to the state and general public, than on the benefits to individual students. From this mission statement, increasing and spreading knowledge appears to be the number one priority, with students as a means to that end. As a prospective student, I would find this web page somewhat intimidating and impersonal. Digging a little deeper, the individual campus’ websites are a little more welcoming, but still reflect the overall university’s strong research focus.
Radford University, on the other hand, is a much smaller public university located in southwest Virginia. It has about 9,400 students, most of whom are undergraduates (3). Here is its mission statement:
“As a mid-sized, comprehensive public institution dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge, Radford University empowers students from diverse backgrounds by providing transformative educational experiences, from the baccalaureate to the doctoral level, within and beyond the classroom. As an inclusive university community, we specialize in cultivating relationships among students, faculty, staff, alumni and other partners, and in providing a culture of service, support and engagement. We embrace innovation and tradition and instill students with purpose and the ability to think creatively and critically. We provide an educational environment and the tools to address the social, economic and environmental issues confronting our region, nation and the world.”
This mission statement is very student-focused, highlighting the university’s commitment to inclusion and empowerment of individual students. While it also describes the university’s commitment to knowledge, it is clear that students are the priority, not just a means to an end. The web page with this mission statement also includes information on Radford University’s vision and core values, which echo the same themes of inclusivity and student-focused education . Overall, their approach seems much more well-rounded and appealing to prospective students than that of the UC system.