Higher Education Mission Statements

I chose to search for mission statements from Purdue University-West Lafayette (IN) and Case Western Reserve University (OH).

Purdue University-West Lafayette (IN)

Purdue University-West Lafayette is the flagship campus of the Purdue University System.  A public Research I (i.e., very high research activity) institution located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant college.  Related to its designation as a land-grant college, Purdue was established, in part, with funds provided by the Morrill Act of 1862, “where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts” (7 U.S. Code § 301 – Investment of proceeds of sale of land or scrip).

The mission statement from Purdue does not appear to be published online.  However, a Statement of Integrity and Code of Conduct is available here.  Specifically, the Preamble to the Statement of Integrity and Code of Conduct will be considered in lieu of an explicit mission statement.  The Preamble reads as follows:

Purdue University has a tradition of ethical conduct spanning its history. As a land-grant institution, we demonstrate our responsiveness to our constituencies and extend to them access to our knowledge resources. We nurture relationships with other partners in education who support our vision or join us to foster common interests. We integrate our mission with our responsibilities. We contribute our knowledge resources impartially in serving our public purposes. As faculty, students, staff, and administrators, we are a community of dedicated learners, scholars, professionals, and practitioners — all contributing our talents to uphold our standards, and improve ourselves and the broader community in which we live and work. Our responsibilities and obligations toward the advancement of learning, discovery, and engagement in the University and in Indiana extend to our nation and the world.

Albeit without reference to its original purpose of teaching specific disciplines, including, but not limited to, military tactics, engineering, and agriculture, Purdue continues to be strongly committed to the mission of the land-grant colleges as a contributor of knowledge for the public good.  This is evidenced by action items such as “demonstrate our responsiveness to our constituencies and extend to them access to our knowledge resources[,]” “nurture relationships with other partners in education who support our vision or join us to foster common interests[,]” and “contribute our knowledge resources impartially in serving our public purposes”.  Moreover, the Preamble also emphasizes general principles universal to institutions of higher learning, calling for “faculty, students, staff, and administrators” to ethically contribute to “the advancement of learning, discovery, and engagement” within their “community of dedicated learners, scholars, professionals, and practitioners” and beyond.

Case Western Reserve University (OH)

Established by the merger of Western Reserve University, best known for its programs in the liberal arts, and Case Institute of Technology, best known for its programs in the sciences and engineering, Case Western Reserve University is a private Research I (i.e., very high research activity) institution located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Case Western Reserve publishes not only a mission statement but also a vision statement and a core values statement.  All three statements are available here.   For purposes of this assignment, the mission statement reads as follows:

Case Western Reserve University improves and enriches people’s lives through research that capitalizes on the power of collaboration, and education that dramatically engages our students.

We realize this goal through: 

  • scholarship and creative endeavor that draws on all forms of inquiry.
  • learning that is active, creative and continuous.
  • promotion of an inclusive culture of global citizenship.

Recall that the Preamble to the Statement of Integrity and Code of Conduct at Purdue emphasizes general principles universal to institutions of higher learning, calling for “faculty, students, staff, and administrators” to ethically contribute to “the advancement of learning, discovery, and engagement” within their “community of dedicated learners, scholars, professionals, and practitioners” and beyond.  Similarly, the mission statement of Case Western Reserve calls for an institution of higher-learning that “improves and enriches people’s lives through research that capitalizes on the power of collaboration”.  However, Case Western Reserve also places a specific priority on its students, calling for “education that dramatically engages” based on preeminent research, modern pedagogy, and open community.

 

Interestingly, “What do universities want to be? A content analysis of mission and vision statements worldwide”, a December 2017 blog post by Julián David Cortés-Sánchez, principal professor at the Universidad del Rosario’s School of Management (Colombia), includes the following finding: “Public universities were more focused on individuals … while private universities were more focused on process”.  This is actually contrary to the mission statements from Purdue and Case Western Reserve, with the former public university focusing on process and the latter private university focusing on students.

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4 Responses to Higher Education Mission Statements

  1. kcarper says:

    I like the use of bullet points in the mission statement. I think it draws exact attention to the numerical amounts of thoughts and the action verbs or nouns associated with them. This gives a visual separation to the wording that can be lost in a narrative style writing; mission statements that are too long and too wordy can be ineffective. I also think the bullet points force a certain terseness to the statement, making it easier to read and understand.

  2. zookat13 says:

    In comparing mission statements across universities, it seems that many land grant universities put less emphasis on benefits to individual students in their statements, and more on service to the overall community.

    Do you think that this pattern holds true for Purdue’s mission statement?

  3. Abhinav Sharma says:

    Really interesting that some universities don’t specifically have mission statements, but instead have other declarations that serve a somewhat similar purpose. I would be curious to find out how many universities in the US use something that they don’t specifically call a mission statement.

    I agree with the comment above on the use of bullets by Case Western. In this assignment, I came across several mission statements that include long, wordy sentences that can at times appear hollow. Case Western’s bullets are succinct, simple and direct, and in some ways, come across as more realistic and sincere.

  4. kaiwen says:

    Very interesting cases. I also searched for the mission statement of Purdue University but only found mission statements for different departments, which are more career and major-related. But the Preamble you presented is exactly what we want. It can be clearly seen that as a public land-grant university, it emphasizes its responsibilities and obligations of serving public purposes. The best part is that you not only introduce mission statements themselves, but also think about how they realize their missions in reality. Great job!

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