As I understand them mission statements are supposed to be a formal summary of the institution’s goals and direction. Though, I’m not sure I’ve ever looked up a university mission statement before writing this blog. I’d be interested if anyone else actively looks up the mission statement of an institution, or if they even bother to read them when they stumble across the mission statement looking for the correct address to send their transcripts.
It’s not so much that I think that mission statements aren’t important. It just calls into question who is the intended audience. Is it to attract students? Attract students’ parents? Or to provide the administration and faculty a clear direction in which they should focus their work? Or is it just something most other institutions have so “our university should too”? All of the above? Harvard doesn’t even have an official mission statement. Do they not need one because it doesn’t matter they’ll have enough applicants without one?
I chose to look at ODU’s mission statement, because I completed my undergrad degree there, and Lehigh University, because my grandmother wanted me to go there so badly. I couldn’t afford it even if I got in so I didn’t apply… Sorry Mommom.
Old Dominion University
“Old Dominion University, located in the City of Norfolk in the metropolitan Hampton Roads region of coastal Virginia, is a dynamic public research institution that serves its students and enriches the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world through rigorous academic programs, strategic partnerships, and active civic engagement.”
A good portion of the student population at ODU are commuter students. There is a lot of military and ex-military students as Hampton Roads is home to considerable amount of military bases-especially Navy as Naval Station Norfolk is less than fifteen minutes away. Even so, ODU is not a well known school, especially to students who are new to the area. So the mission statement including where it is located makes sense. The emphasis on strategic partnerships and civic engagement I believe play a double role talking to both the military community and the city of Norfolk which is sort of going through a sort of simultaneous revival and decline. “Rigorous academic programs” who doesn’t want a good education?
“To advance learning through the integration of teaching, research, and service to others.
Excellence is the hallmark of a university of distinction. Excellence requires a total quality commitment, which must characterize every activity of Lehigh University.
Lehigh is an independent, coeducational university with programs in the arts and humanities, business, education, engineering, and the natural and social sciences, offering bachelor’s degrees primarily to full-time, residential students and graduate degrees through the doctorate for both full-time and part-time students. Lehigh is small enough to be personal, yet large enough to provide stimulating diversity and to play important national and international roles.
Since Lehigh’s founding in 1865, the faculty has emphasized the integration of the academic disciplines, combining the cultural with the professional, the theoretical with the practical, and the humanistic with the technological in a modern, liberal education that serves as preparation for a useful life. Lehigh is an intellectually unified community of learners, and in this sense Lehigh is an integral university.
Lehigh strives to earn international prominence as a university of special distinction through its integration of teaching, research, and service to society. The integrating element of teaching, research and service is learning, which is the principal mission of all members of the Lehigh community. Our mission of advancing learning has three aspects:
Teaching. The development of future leaders in our global society is first among Lehigh’s purposes and first among our achievements. Preparation for leadership requires the best of teaching, in which both mentor and student are so deeply engaged that they become joint owners of the learning process.
Research. Lehigh is deeply committed to the creative search for new understanding of nature and human society as an essential element of the learning process. The scholarly inquiry and research of Lehigh faculty and students add value to instruction on our campus, and contribute to the distinction of our university.
Service. The special commitment of the Lehigh community to experiential learning through service to others imbues the entire university with a sense of purpose and value in the larger society. Lehigh is extensively involved in developing partnerships with industry, government and others in education and human services to meet the needs of our society. In a societal sense, Lehigh is devoted to the concepts of unity, community, and cooperative achievement.
Lehigh believes that its graduates must develop critical thinking and effective communication as their habit; they must have both a broad understanding of human affairs and a domain of true competence; they are expected to live by a set of mature cultural and personal values, accept the virtue of work as a vehicle of service, and have the will to live and work with exceptional self-discipline.
Respect for human dignity is very important at Lehigh, a caring community deeply committed to harmonious cultural diversity as an essential element of the learning environment. In order that all members of the Lehigh community might develop as effective and enlightened citizens, the University encourages physical, social, ethical, and spiritual development as well as rigorous intellectual development.”
Lehigh is a small private research institution in Bethlehem, PA-only about 5,000 undergrads. It has a worldwide reputation for the quality of its academics. I think their reputation and expectations are apparent if you take the time to read the mission statement, no matter who the audience is.