During a recent lecture on graduate course on professoriate preparation, we are asked to look at mission statement of two higher education institutes. Being an alumni of the University of Akron (UA), a public school in Ohio, naturally I looked at my alma mater ‘s mission statement as the first one:
“The University of Akron, a publicly assisted metropolitan institution, strives to develop enlightened members of society. It offers comprehensive programs of instruction from associate through doctoral levels; pursues a vigorous agenda of research in the arts, sciences, and professions; and provides service to the community. The university pursues excellence in undergraduate education and distinction in selected areas of graduate instruction, inquiry, and creative activity” – [ source]
And here is Virginia Tech’s (VT) mission statement, a land-grand state university in Virginia:
“Inspired by our land-grant identity and guided by our motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is an inclusive community of knowledge, discovery, and creativity dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world.”The first difference that strikes me is that VT specifically mentioned that it has an inclusive community. Interestingly, I always felt that Virginia Tech puts more effort into initiatives that reinforce the sense of inclusion for all of its members. Of course, I find UA inclusive and welcoming as well, however I think the initiative is more “pronounced” at VT. Second, VT shows its intention to improve the quality of life of people beyond Virginia, whereas the University of Akron does not explicitly state such intention. This is of interest, as a large body of students (especially in engineering) at UA are international and UA occasionally launches advertising campaigns to attract students from other parts of the word. I think this is mostly because UA started with a mission of serving Ohioans, rather than acquiring talents from abroad. However, as the number of high school graduates is rapidly declining in Ohio (check this), UA is looking in other places to recruit freshmen. Nevertheless, I think the current direction of UA should be reflected in its mission statement, although I’m not sure that universities can easily change their mission statement.