The purpose of a mission statement is to define the overall aims and goals of an entity, defined here as a learning institution. The first institution I have chosen to look at is a large state, land-grant University and my own undergraduate alma mater, University of Maryland-College Park. Their mission statement reads:
“The mission of the University of Maryland, College Park is to provide excellent teaching, research, and service. The University educates students and advances knowledge in areas of importance to the State, the nation, and the world. The University is committed to being a preeminent national center for research and for graduate education, and the institution of choice for Maryland’s undergraduates of exceptional ability and promise.”
The second institution that I have chosen to look at is a small liberal arts college originally started as an all-girls institution but has now become co-ed, Randolph College. Their mission statement reads:
“Randolph College prepares students to engage the world critically and creatively, live and work honorably, and experience life abundantly.”
These two mission statements are very different in both their wording and their focus, however, I think they very well reflect the institutions that they represent. The University of Maryland-College Park is a large, state university situated in a large city right outside of Washington, D.C. It was originally deemed a land grant university. Its mission seems to focus on the student body as a whole rather than addressing the students as individuals. This makes sense at a large university as class sizes are large and faculty-to-student ratios are low. Similarly, this holds true for such a populated area where despite the decreased physical distance, some would argue that there are less personal relationships in highly populated areas as opposed to more rural areas. UMCP also focuses on the students as a representation of the university rather than vice versa. It is not surprising that UMCP uses words like “Nation” and “State” as Washington D.C. is so close. Finally, the UMCP mission statement mentions research multiple times. This is a large university that relies a great deal on research funding. Additionally, other large research institutions such as NIH, Johns Hopkins, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are close to the UMCP campus. UMCP has to have high standards and be dedicated to research in order to be on par with these other institutions.
Randolph College’s mission statement is smaller, literally and figuratively. Randolph College is a small, private, liberal arts college in Lynchburg, VA. It was originally founded as a women’s-only college but has since become co-ed. Their mission statement appears to focus on the student as an individual. This, like UMCP, reflects the location and size of the school. At a smaller school, more attention can be paid to individual students. Faculty members have more opportunity to address students both within and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the mission statement of Randolph College not only focuses on the students, but focuses on the student as a whole. They discuss things like “living and working honestly and experiencing life abundantly”. The UMCP mission statement addresses primarily scholastic achievement, however, Randolph College mentions life outside of scholastics. Finally, there is no mention of research in RC’s mission statement. Again, this school is a small, private school from which the majority of their funds come from students, alumni, donors, etc. Research is not likely a large focus of their efforts and so is not as important in their mission statement. Though these two mission statements appear very different at face value, they both provide a reflection of their size, university type, and location. One can get a pretty good feel for these institutions from these statements.