5104- (Mission) Statement Made

Virginia Wesleyan University

“The mission of Virginia Wesleyan University is to engage students of diverse ages, religions, ethnic origins and backgrounds in a rigorous liberal arts education that will prepare them to meet the challenges of life and career in a complex and rapidly changing world. In this endeavor, the University employs a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning and provides opportunities to connect the study of the liberal arts with practical learning experiences on campus, in the Hampton Roads region, and throughout the world. In accord with our United Methodist heritage, Virginia Wesleyan aspires to be a supportive community that is committed to social responsibility, ethical conduct, higher learning and religious freedom.”

Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) is located in self-described Coastal Virginia, and the address is in Virginia Beach, VA, USA. VWU is currently undergoing a transition from a private liberal arts college to a university with its first graduate programs being offered starting this fall. Other than this is my undergraduate alma mater, I find that this institution is in a period of transition that is an interesting case study. VWU has the current underpinnings of a liberal arts college, including requiring a breadth of experience in many different subjects, however as a simple Google search would surmise there is no classification for a “liberal arts university”, but rather they are considered hybrids. An example of the liberal arts-university hybrid would be Brown University with its “open curriculum”.

In reading the mission statement above, I find it striking that it begins with a diversity statement. This line alone sets it apart from some other collegiate mission statements in Virginia that I researched. I am uplifted knowing that a liberal arts institution, with religious heritage would actively choose in their new mission statement to put diversity first and foremost, especially in our current politically-charged social climate. Another aspect of the mission statement that stood out to me is the emphasis that is placed on practical learning experiences. Furthermore, it qualifies that those experiences are not just on campus, which is significant because it shows that the university understands that learning can be done in the classroom, in the greenhouse, on the Chesapeake Bay, or on the job. Finally, I like the fact that the mission statement of VWU does not delineate between undergraduate and graduate students, and I think that is on purpose. From what the reader perceives from the mission statement, Virginia Wesleyan expects that, at whatever level, each student will be challenged and grow to overcome the demands of our world.

University of Idaho

“The University of Idaho shapes the future through innovative thinking, community engagement and transformative education. The University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant research university. From this distinctive origin and identity comes our commitment to enhance the scientific, economic, social, legal and cultural assets of our state and to develop solutions for complex problems facing our society. We deliver focused excellence in teaching, research, outreach and engagement in a collaborative environment at our residential main campus in Moscow, regional centers, extension offices and research facilities across Idaho. Consistent with the land-grant ideal, our outreach activities serve the state as well as strengthen our teaching, scholarly and creative capacities statewide. Our educational offerings seek to transform the lives of our students through engaged learning and self-reflection. Our teaching and learning includes undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education offered through face-to-face instruction, technology-enabled delivery and hands-on experience. Our educational programs continually strive for excellence and are enriched by the knowledge, collaboration, diversity and creativity of our faculty, students and staff.”

As comparison to my alma mater, I have randomly selected a state, Idaho, and then chose the largest university in that state, the University of Idaho (which interestingly enough is more often than not the land-grant university, as is the case here). UI is situated in the small town of Moscow, Idaho, which, in like Blacksburg, it is centralized on the university (They don’t have the same football traditions that we do, but they still make do with the team they have.)

Typical for a land-grant university, University of Idaho starts their mission statement mentioning the pillars of land-grant institutions, “teaching, research, outreach and engagement.” Therefore, I would expect the rest of the mission statement to back those pillars. The commitment statement is interesting, and different from the previous mission statement. This one shows a respect that it is not just the faculty or students that drive them mission, rather its the university that also shall strive to further its mission. This one also have a diversity blub, but it is not as pronounced as the diversity statement that VWU starts off with above. This statement is also more reflective of the emphasis of graduate students (mentioning them by name, and stating research is paramount), but also holds them at the same standard as all students: excellence.  

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