Mission Statements and Actions

PFP Post #1

Higher Education’s possibilities continue to mystify me—there are so many varied paths to getting an education, to learning, and to experience a commitment to studying. I am interested in processes that involve the student outside the classroom—process that create spaces for learning. There are a few schools I know of that do this well; two of which are Berea College and Warren Wilson College. Both of the institutes are rural and devoted to the region of Appalachia, which is perhaps why they are on my radar. Similarly, each of these places demand a devotion to service and service learning that I have seen students respond to in the classroom.

Where are the mission statements from? Location? Country? Type of university/college?

Warren Wilson’s detailed “road map” to upholding and honoring the mission stood out as practical, user friendly, even. To me, it suggests that these are to be implemented and integrated into student life, not simply recorded on a website.

The mission of Warren Wilson College is to provide a distinctive undergraduate and graduate liberal arts education. Our undergraduate education combines academics, work, and service in a learning community committed to environmental responsibility, cross-cultural understanding, and the common good.

Core Values

All proceedings, programs, and initiatives of the College are grounded in a commitment to the following core values:

The Triad: Academics, work, and service

Community: Civic engagement and participatory governance Liberal Arts: Experiential and innovative education Sustainability: Environmental responsibility, social and economic justice Diversity: Inclusivity, international and cross-cultural understanding Wellness: Personal growth and well-being

Enduring Institutional Objectives

Drawing from its core values, the College accomplishes its mission through an enduring commitment to the following objectives:

  1. To practice an integrated Triad of academic study, productive work, and meaningful service
  2. To prepare students for service, leadership, and meaningful lifelong work and learning
  3. To offer an undergraduate educational program that A. enables students to think critically, obtain and evaluate information effectively, and communicate clearly; B. introduces students to a variety of ways that humans acquire and use knowledge; C. provides students with opportunities to develop a breadth of understanding and to make connections among areas critical to a liberal arts curriculum; D. requires that students demonstrate a depth of understanding through competence in one or more academic disciplines; E. leads students into considered reflection on the meaning and value of work and service to others; F. engages students in Triad activities that deepen understanding about the environmental, economic, and community bases of sustainability; G. guides students in examining their lives and articulating their beliefs and values; H. provides opportunities for personal, physical, moral, and spiritual development; I. imparts an awareness of the commonality of human problems while encouraging the development of civic engagement and a sense of social justice; J. offers educational opportunities for students to better appreciate the diversity of the world and to develop cross-cultural and international understanding.
  4. To offer select, innovative graduate programs grounded in the liberal arts tradition
  5. To promote environmental responsibility in students through education, campus operations, policy, and community outreach
  6. To create an educational community representing a broadly diverse world
  7. To nurture, through responsible and resourceful management policies, a small, residential community where students, faculty, staff , and governing board share close, mutually supportive, personal relationships and collaborate in College governance
  8. The strategic plan draws on the College’s Enduring Institutional Objectives and identifies those for specific initiatives during the strategic plan period, 2010-2015.


Warren Wilson College will lead the nation toward a new model for liberal arts education through the innovation of its Triad educational program, the quality of its academic engagement, the fulfillment of its sustainability principles, the depth of its commitment to diversity, the vitality of its community, and its nurturing of individual well-being.[1]


Berea College, located in East Kentucky has a more religious grounding in it’s mission statement, laden with historical context:



Berea College, founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.” Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers, and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.

To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself

  • To provide an educational opportunity primarily for students from Appalachia, black and white, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
  • To provide an education of high quality with a liberal arts foundation and outlook.
  • To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
  • To provide for all students through the labor program experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.
  • To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.
  • To create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men.
  • To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all members of the community a way of life characterized by plain living, pride in labor well done, zest for learning, high personal standards, and concern for the welfare of others.
  • To serve the Appalachian region primarily through education but also by other appropriate services.


Both of these colleges speak to the importance of liberal arts and community—however, the communities they focus on seem different. Berea has a regional approach while Warren Wilson is looking globally. These are both strengths and potential weaknesses. What I find compelling about both is that they don’t seem to see students, rather members of the community they are creating through the space of the college. I believe this mindset has great potential for radical educational practices.

I found it very interesting that Berea College’s mission statement had not been updated since 1993—over twenty years!Originally adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1969; this revised statement adopted by the Board of Trustees of Berea College, Berea, Kentucky April 24, 1993[2]


Jordan Laney

[1] http://www.warren-wilson.edu/about/mission

[2] http://www.berea.edu/about/mission/

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