Mission Accomplished?

I chose to assess the mission statements of two universities that had the most influence in my personal and professional development (aside from Virginia Tech, of course). These schools offered me a  diversity of experiences that allowed me to refine my interests and expand my skill set in two exciting and challenging environments.

In 2008, I was lucky enough to spend a year abroad studying at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand while working toward my B.S. in Wildlife Science at Virginia Tech. The University of Canterbury is not a research university, I don’t believe they categorize their institutions of higher learning in NZ as they do here in the US.  The mission is three-fold, and speaks to the influence this university has locally, globally and culturally. In my experience, academics in New Zealand were keenly interested in contributing to the advancement of knowledge on an international level while still making contributions locally. I imagine this is due to the large percentage of international and exchange students that are enrolled in UC. This is keenly reflected in the mission statement, which is lengthy and specific in it’s endeavors. New Zealand also honors the heritage of it’s native people (the Maori) with great intention and purpose. All road signs are bilingual, and Maori history and language classes are required for all students. This aspect is also carefully outlined in the mission statement.

Conversely, the University of Colorado’s mission statement is short and sparse. When comparing the two statements, I am struck by how “American” and business-oriented the verbiage is.  The statement seems clinical, and uninspired and leaves little for me to consider. This is most likely due to this university being a well-known research institution, and must reflect the ideals of a well regulated and prestigious institution.

University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Mission:  The University of Canterbury comprises its staff, students, graduates and alumni. The University of Canterbury Act 1961 describes the purpose of the University as existing “for the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination and maintenance thereof by teaching and research.” This is carried through to the Education Act 1989 and informs the mission of the University.

  • Our purpose within the international community of scholars is to advance knowledge by research; to maintain and disseminate this knowledge through teaching, publications and critical debate; to confirm outcomes through the awarding and conferring of degrees, diplomas and certificates; to serve as a repository of knowledge and expertise; and to act as critic and conscience of society.
  • Our purpose within the New Zealand tertiary sector is to contribute to a tertiary education system that is characterised by excellence, relevance, academic freedom and improved access for all; to work with others to enrich intellectual discourse, educational quality and research activity; and to contribute to the intellectual, cultural, social and economic life and well-being of our city, region and nation.
  • Our purpose as a university of Aotearoa New Zealand, acknowledging the Treaty of Waitangi in all our activities, is to respond and contribute to the educational, research and development needs and aspirations of Mäori, as tangata whenua.

 University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado)

The University of Colorado is a public research university with multiple campuses serving Colorado, the nation, and the world through leadership in high-quality education and professional training, public service, advancing research and knowledge, and state-of-the-art health care.


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