The first mission statement is from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina. Duke is a private, liberal, research institution founded in 1838, with approximately 15,000 students (undergraduate and graduate). Duke University’s mission statement is clear and focuses on providing high quality education for both undergraduate and graduate student populations. The statement emphasizes a focus on students’ (undergraduate and graduate) intellectual development, ethical development and providing opportunities that will allow the students to develop as leaders within their communities. The mission includes promotion of health, open inquiry, developing active professionals, instilling a sense of commitment and citizenship and creating life long learners.
I was surprised to learn that Duke has more graduate students (8,379) than undergraduates (6471) and has eleven schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Law, engineering, medicine, public policy, nursing, business, divinity, and environmental sciences, to name a few. This explains the reason why both populations and their development is explained in the mission statement. Additionally, it was refreshing to read that the institution also believes in (as per the statement) in choosing outstanding individuals to work for the institution: officers, trustees and faculty. As these groups are important constituents in supporting, practicing and furthering the institutions mission. Something that stood out to me further was that the statement indicates the institutions desire to cure disease, and promote health, through sophisticated medical research (I did not expect the mission statement to be so specific).
The second mission statement is from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech is a large, research, public, land-grant university, founded in 1872, with approximately 30,000 students (undergraduate-23,000 and graduate-7,000). Virginia Tech’s mission statement states the purpose of the institution (to serve the state of Virginia, the nation and world community). It emphasizes that discovery and research of new knowledge, teaching and learning, and outreach and engagement are important to the institution. Lastly, the statement indicates that VT “creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life“. Virginia Tech’s statement is really broad. It states a desire to be leaders locally, nationally and globally through discovery, research, teaching and learning, outreach… The statement uses a lot of loaded words that can mean different things to different people. These words/ statements are vague and ambiguous.
I understand that both the institutions (Duke and VT) are unique (one private, one public) in their own ways, suited for their environments and the populations they serve, but both have mission statements that place a value on serving multiple communities through learning (which should not be a surprise as the purpose of the institutions is higher education). Additionally, both institutions have a research focus and believe in creating new knowledge. A major difference in the mission statements is that Duke’s mission statement is detailed, it addresses the various constituents of the university and their needs/ development. On the other hand, Virginia Tech’s mission statement is broad and one can assume that it addresses the same needs yet it does not explicitly mention undergraduates and graduates in the statement. I believe that it is difficult to have highly specific statements in the mission statements,partly as the statement should highlight big goals, aspirations and directions that institution wants to pursue. Although, I am more attracted to Duke’s statement, I believe the VT statement hits on all the major areas that makes VT unique from other institutions.