This week in Future Professoriate we look at the mission statements of a couple universities of our choosing. I chose to post on King’s College in the United Kingdom and Spelman College in Atlanta, USA. I wanted to look outside of the US and the UK is a country I am familiar with that was relatively easy to find a mission statement on. I chose Spelman because it is a historically Black college. As a graduate of another historically Black college or university (HBCU), I wanted to discuss one and to choose a mission statement I was not familiar with.
I’ll be candid with you, I view university mission statements as corporate rhetoric. Yes, they’re intended to solidify universities’ commitments to their students, communities in which they serve*, and the academic community. But as academia has become more neoliberal, as financial models have shifted and inequality, particularly in the US has increased, the statements sometimes echo the types of things we hear from corporations. I perused a few university and college websites in the US, The Netherlands, and the UK before settling on the two institutions I reviewed. There was some intentionality on my part in how I searched. Among a few of the mission statements I looked at nothing stood out or surprised me, so I moved on to others.
King’s College is one of the founding colleges of the University of London. What stood out to me about their mission statement is that it is actually short: one sentence. Of course, the objectives listed below essentially form a part of their mission statement. Among the objectives, what surprised me was the second one, “provide students with a professional and customer-focused service in respect of essential functions such as enrolment, examinations, funding, and graduation.” Customer service-oriented statements sound very much like the Americanization or commercialization of education. Although this has been a growing trend in the UK over the past two decades, it was still surprising to see it written that way.
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/aboutkings/orgstructure/ps/acservices/mission (Links to an external site.)
To provide staff and students with an excellent service in all aspects of academic and student administration.
The objectives of Academic Services are to:
- Manage the student lifecycle from application to graduation to ensure a coherent and seamless student experience and effective administrative process
- Provide students with a professional and customer-focused service in respect of essential functions such as enrolment, examinations, funding and graduation
- Provide top-level support for research and the King’s Graduate School including co-ordination of the REF and the review and promotion of ethical research
- Ensure that the College’s governance and academic regulatory framework is robust, up to date and compliant with relevant legislation
- Support academic planning for the College
- Ensure that all quality assurance and enhancement procedures are robust, effective and fit for purpose and to produce expert internal management information and external reports as required.
What stands out about Spelman College’s mission statement is the wholistic focus of their mission and the fact that although they are traditionally a women’s college, the do not emphasize that in their mission statement. I compared it to Bennett College – another historically Black college for women and theirs focuses specifically on the education of women. I believe Spelman has a small number of students who aren’t women, and certainly their students take classes with students of all genders in the Atlanta College Circle, but their mission statement is very wholistic, and gender neutral. It is a very convincing, strong mission statement.
Spelman College Mission Statement
Spelman College, a historically Black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Through diverse learning modalities, Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change.
5 Responses to Mission Statements