Mission Statement

For this blog post, I wanted to compare the mission statements of a public and private higher education institutions located in Virginia, United States of America.  For this reflection I used the University of Virginia as an example of a public institution and Washington and Lee as an example of a private institution.



University of Virginia’s Mission Statement Page contains the following information:


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; and
  • Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.

Statement background: The Faculty Senate, with the concurrence of the president, approved revisions to the University’s mission statement on May 15, 2013, to replace the statement that had been in effect since May 31, 1985.  The Board of Visitors, after making additional modifications, approved the mission statement on November 15, 2013.  The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved the mission statement on January 14, 2014, to be effective 30 days following adjournment of the 2014 General Assembly.”


Washington and Lee’s Mission Statement Page contains the following information:


“College Mission Statement

The College provides a liberal education in the arts and sciences and fosters a collaborative environment for faculty and student inquiry. Dedicated faculty members challenge students to sharpen their critical thinking skills and to develop their capacities for clear communication and creative expression. The College faculty is committed to advancing our teaching, curriculum, and campus culture in order to meet the educational needs and aspirations of students in a rapidly changing world.

The hallmarks of a graduate of the College include:

  • A resourceful intellect and talent for independent thinking
  • The capacity to evaluate information critically and to convey it effectively
  • Competence in many methods of defining, approaching and solving problems
  • A lively curiosity about and mature respect for varied cultures and intellectual perspectives
  • A lifelong commitment to learning, to health and well-being, and to the values that inform a W&L education.


University Mission Statement

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.”


Note:  The date of Washington and Lee’s Mission statement was not made available on this page.


What I initially noticed about the University of Virginia’s mission statement is their commitment to “development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life,” along with a “universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.”  However, accessibility, affordability, and inclusivity language seem to be distinctly absent from Washington and Lee’s mission statement.  Washington and Lee’s focus seems to be on meeting the “educational needs and aspirations of students,” and I wonder if this exclusionary if accessibility is not a stated goal of this institution.  Perhaps, Washington and Lee is committed to accessibility, affordability and inclusion, but that is not their target market audience.  I really don’t know.

I then noticed the University of Virginia’s mission statement further elaborates upon their “unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect.” However, Washington and Lee’ mission statement declares that a graduate of their College should have “A lively curiosity about and mature respect for varied cultures and intellectual perspectives” and are prepared for “engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”Curiosity,”  “respect,” and “engagement” without actually having a “collaborative, diverse community” is a form of oppression, to my mind seems exclusionary, and something that could potentially perpetuate social class reproduction. Again, Washington and Lee may be very successful in the recruitment and retainment of a diverse student body and may be very inclusive.  However, the mission statement could be worded better to reflect these values.

Lastly, I did like that Washington and Lee seem to promote critical thinking and transferable skills, as is common with liberal art schools. In contrast, the University of Virginia seemed more focused on innovation.


Washington and Lee’s Mission Statement: https://my.wlu.edu/the-college/about-the-college/mission-statement Retrieved September 14, 2020.

University of Virginia’s Mission Statement:  https://provost.virginia.edu/faculty-handbook/mission-statement-university-virginia Retrieved September 14, 2020.

4 Replies to “Mission Statement”

  1. Thanks for the post! Really interesting that UVa’s mission statement is one of the more succinct ones mentioned in this blog roll. I find it interesting that like Duke University, UVa also highlighted the role of their medical school in their mission statement.

    1. While preparing for this assignment I read around fifteen mission statements and UVA was the only one of those fifteen that mentioned affordability.

      I too like that the medical school mentioned it’s commitment to patient care. I have not yet, read Duke’s mission statement, I will look it up momentarily, but I also did not notice any other schools mention this important outcome. Patient care is interesting because it is a quantifiable outcome so less vague than most language found many mission statements.

  2. Thanks Lee Ann for presenting and comparing these two mission statements. I agree with your statement about Washington and Lee’s mission statement and working to include more information about diversity and inclusion. I find these especially relevant for an institution that has recently been in the news under pressure to remove the “Lee” from their university name in light of the demand to remove racist affiliations from institutional names and monuments. I believe they voted to remove the Lee from their name, so I would think that they would prioritize updating their mission statement to also be more inclusive. However, it seems as if nothing has been updated recently to reflect the current climate or it is simply unclear when the mission statement was last updated. I think all universities should include information about when the mission statement was last updated like the University of Virginia. In my own search, I never found this information, which made it difficult to know if institutional statements changed since 2020 to reflect what is currently going on.

    1. I am so glad you brought up the recent news about Washington and Lee. I just did a google search to read the most recent news. I just read this article from 3 weeks ago, that talks about the history https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/08/24/arlington-house-remove-robert-e-lee-name/. I agree, that symbolism that glorifies a history of white dynasty continues to support a collective social conscience that perpetuates oppression. I am saddened this is still an ongoing issue. I hope the school considers changing the language of their mission statement very soon.

      In my blog post, I felt almost hesitant to be too critical, because I am not aware of how the school goes about supporting diversity and inclusion. Acknowledging that I am not a linguist or a sociologist the language in my opinion seemed to signify maintaining the status quo in supporting their “students” but with no mention of how to recruit marginalized populations. I also didn’t like the section of the statement that stated graduates will learn to “engage” with a global and diverse community. The word “engage” was almost offensive in how it seemed to be condescending.

Leave a Reply