The first assigned blog post is about mission statements. I’ve chosen to look at the mission statements of my two previous institutions.
Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA):
Gettysburg College is a small, liberal arts college in south central Pennsylvania. Approximately 2,600 undergraduate students are enrolled and no graduate programs are offered. Their mission statement can be found here: http://www.gettysburg.edu/about/college_history/mission_statement.dot . The focus of the school is providing an undergraduate liberal arts education in a small classroom setting. Other than my general chemistry classes, most of my classes had fewer than 20 students. This fosters an environment of deep inquiry and discussion. I very rarely took an exam that was even partly multiple choice. I did however write plenty of essays and lab reports, in addition to presentations. There are few institutions where you are afforded the opportunity to design and conduct your own experiments, under the guidance of faculty of course, and Gettysburg College is one of them. I knew my professors and peers well and felt comfortable discussing nearly any topic with them, scientific and personal. I also was required to take courses outside of my major, broadening my horizons further. These experiences laid the foundation for the scientist that I have become, and I am incredibly grateful for my four years of study there. Even though I am more drawn to the resear
ch and service aspects of land-grant universities, I could see myself teaching at a small liberal arts school such as Gettysburg College. Mentoring the next generation of scientists is just as important as carrying out the research itself. My experience at Gettysburg fully reflects their mission statement.
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI):
Michigan State University is a large, research-intensive, land-grant university located in central Michigan. Their mission statement can be found here: http://president.msu.edu/advancing-msu/msu-mission-statement.html . MSU has over 50,000 students, 11,500 of whom are graduate students. In many senses it felt like the polar opposite of Gettysburg College. Undergraduate classes have hundreds of students in them. Many undergraduates do not get any face time with their professors. The campus is huge and sprawling. According to friends who received their bachelors degrees from MSU, these factors often leave undergraduates feeling lost in a huge ocean of people. For my graduate studies however, it was pretty ideal. The department had plenty of resources to support my research, and I knew many of the faculty well. The mission statement is interesting because it has many parallels with Gettysburg’s, such as its focus on global citizenship. However, it does focus more on research and outreach. This makes sense, as MSU is a land-grant institution that by definition must serve the state through research and service, in addition to education. I had many opportunities to conduct high-quality research and share it with the public in a variety of contexts during my studies at MSU. It was fulfilling to know at the end of
the day my hard work would benefit many others. It was this sense that I was doing “good” in the world that helped motivate me. Even if you’re personally interested and invested in whatever you’re studying, knowing that you’re helping others at the end of the day can really help you push through the more challenging moments, as cheesy as that sounds. Overall MSU does a great job of living up to its mission statement.