I will admit that I have never read any university’s mission statement until this week. I chose to compare the mission statements of two universities to which I have a personal connection: the College of William & Mary, where I completed my undergraduate degree, and Johns Hopkins University, where I was an employee.
College of William & Mary:
William & Mary, a public university in Williamsburg Virginia, is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Established in 1693 by British royal charter, William & Mary is proud of its role as the Alma Mater of generations of American patriots, leaders and public servants. Now, in its fourth century, it continues this tradition of excellence by combining the best features of an undergraduate college with the opportunities offered by a modern research university. Its moderate size, dedicated faculty, and distinctive history give William & Mary a unique character among public institutions, and create a learning environment that fosters close interaction among students and teachers.
The university’s predominantly residential undergraduate program provides a broad liberal education in a stimulating academic environment enhanced by a talented and diverse student body. This nationally acclaimed undergraduate program is integrated with selected graduate and professional programs in five faculties — Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Law, and Marine Science. Masters and doctoral programs in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, business, education, and law provide a wide variety of intellectual opportunities for students at both graduate and undergraduate levels.
At William & Mary, teaching, research, and public service are linked through programs designed to preserve, transmit, and expand knowledge. Effective teaching imparts knowledge and encourages the intellectual development of both student and teacher. Quality research supports the educational program by introducing students to the challenge and excitement of original discovery, and is a source of the knowledge and understanding needed for a better society. The university recognizes its special responsibility to the citizens of Virginia through public and community service to the Commonwealth as well as to national and international communities. Teaching, research, and public service are all integral parts of the mission of William & Mary.
Johns Hopkins University:
To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.
My first reaction was, “Wow, William & Mary’s mission statement is extremely wordy.” But when you boil it down, both statements mention teaching, research, and benefits to the public– although they address these elements in different manners. William & Mary’s statement mentions service to the citizens and to the Commonwealth of Virginia– which is to be expected as it is a public university. As a private institution, Johns Hopkins’ statement doesn’t mention its local community but rather focuses on a global impact.
One thing that stood out to me (in a good way) about William & Mary’s mission statement was that it says teaching “encourages the intellectual development of both student and teacher,” presenting teaching/learning as a collaborative effort between students and teachers.