I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I decided to look up the mission statement of the school I went to for my Bachelor’s degree. Concordia College is a small liberal arts school in Moorhead, Minnesota. The college is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission statement is: The purpose of Concordia College is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life. While not part of the mission statement per se the mission statement is further developed: In particular, the mission highlights our commitment to the Lutheran Academic tradition shaped by Martin Luther’s convictions. Theses include
- Freedom to search for the truth, with nothing off limits for inquiry and critique
- Education in the liberal arts as the best preparation for leadership
- Excellence in all we do
- The engagement of faith and learning as a creative dialogue, where inquiry and scholarship enlighten religious life and faith practice enriches the education experience
- Intellectual humility in the face of the paradoxes and ambiguities of life
I include the extra bit of the mission statement, as I find them valuable to me the first bullet point in particular. While Concordia is a private school that is affiliated with a church, this point says it is okay ask questions of anything, including my religion. Being in a scientific field, this helps as I struggle with what I learn in my studies and what I was told growing up. It tells me that it is okay to ask questions and offer critiques of the stories that I was told. By answering these questions, I am not only enriching my academic desires, but also my faith. I have been striving to try and remove the dichotomy that exists in my mind that faith and science should not be mixed.
I compare the mission statement of Concordia to that of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. UNL is the land-grant university for Nebraska. The mission statement of UNL is rather lengthy, but the first sentence of it suffices. The role of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as the primary intellectual and cultural resource for the state is fulfilled through the three missions of the university: teaching, research, and service. The rest of the statement page goes into detail how the university strives to meet their mission. The school seeks to achieve this by educating the citizens of Nebraska, researching ideas that have benefits to the state, and engaging with the stakeholders of the state. The language of this makes it abundantly clear that the university was created by the people of Nebraska for the benefit of the people of Nebraska and beyond.
It is interesting to see where these institutions derive their calling from and how that is reflected in their mission statements. Concordia has an air of a calling to a higher power by sending forth men and women dedicated to the Christian life. UNL seems to be implying that they are the resource of the state and it is their duty to fulfill their obligations to the state. While there might be some differences between a religiously affiliated school and land-grant, they both work to achieve a similar goal, in this instance.