Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Steve Collins writes about Tunxis’ mission statement and makes interesting associations to Harvard
In a word: sort of. Tunxis has created a mission statement that succinctly states the goals of the College but is, I believe, very generalized and somewhat vague. By definition, a community college seeks to provide an affordable education to a broad range of students in a convenient location. Tunxis’ mission statement simply restates that basic premise then adds a few words about “fostering the skills necessary to succeed.”(1) There is no further explanation or clarification. To my way of thinking, that comes up a bit short. To expand on this point, I’d like to contrast it with portions of the mission statement released on Harvard’s web site.
With its reputation and long history, Harvard could have simply rested on its laurels when preparing a mission statement. Instead, it opens with this general declaration of purpose:
In brief, Harvard strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. (2)
The statement then continues with a detailed description of just how Harvard will carry out this plan for its students, encouraging them to “respect ideas and their free expression,” “to rejoice in discovery and in critical thought,” “to pursue excellence,” and to “assume responsibility for the consequences of personal action.” It goes on to say: “Education at Harvard should liberate students to explore, to create, to challenge, and to lead.” And finally:
The support the College provides to students is a foundation upon which self-reliance and habits of lifelong learning are built: Harvard expects that the scholarship and collegiality it fosters in its students will lead them in their later lives to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society.
Note that there is no mention of cost or convenient location. Instead, the focus is on learning for the sake of learning, on the many benefits that a good education can bring to the life of a student, and on the lifelong consequences of the Harvard experience. The statement acknowledges the development of the individual student and the college’s potential for helping them realize their personal goals in life. It recognizes the individual’s place as a member of society as well, and promises to support them as they go on to become potential leaders within that society.