I want to see institutions write mission statements that are honest, heartfelt, and not filled with meaningless jargon. I want to read a mission statement and be inspired to become a member of that community, to live my life in a way that honors it, and use is as a guide for my own academic decisions. Now that right there might just be Mission Impossible.
Iowa City, Iowa
In pursuing its missions of teaching, research, and service, the University seeks to advance scholarly and creative endeavor through leading-edge research and artistic production; to use this research and creativity to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, health care, and other services provided to the people of Iowa, the nation, and the world; and to educate students for success and personal fulfillment in a diverse world.
Why did I select this one?
I chose Iowa's mission statement because it is one I have seen lived out. Although I never attended, I grew up in the area, then later lived with and among the students. I was always drawn by its inclusion of "creative" as well as "scholarly" endeavors. There is a great deal of emphasis placed on the arts and many know the school for its writer's workshop. In addition, the school makes an intense effort to give back to the people of Iowa. Their goal of educating students extends beyond the idea of success and includes "personal fulfillment;" something the school strives to encourage through its wide array of programs, extracurriculars, and community involvement.
The University of Toronto is dedicated to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principles of equal opportunity, equity and justice.
Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.
It is this human right to radical, critical teaching and research with which the University has a duty above all to be concerned; for there is no one else, no other institution and no other office, in our modern liberal democracy, which is the custodian of this most precious and vulnerable right of the liberated human spirit.
Why did I select this one?
The University of Toronto presents a unique mission statement. The focus is not on action words or outcomes, as much as it is on the core values of the school. One who reads this cannot come away with any doubt that this school is absolutely dedicated to allowing, examining, and promoting free thought among its students, teachers, and researchers. They even manage to address the idea of disturbing questions and challenging beliefs while still committed to protecting individual human rights and the principles of equal opportunity, equity, and justice. It seems perhaps the University of Chicago should have read this mission statement prior to drafting their welcome letter. The university welcomes free and radical thinking without promoting the idea that some may be put at risk. They also recognize the incredible role that higher education institutions play in our modern society as the primary background for allowing this type of radical exploration.
Saying More with Less
"To focus institutions, some administrators have taken the unconventional step of creating exceptionally short mission statements, and placing them front and center."
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