MISSION AND PURPOSE
The University's Mission Statement. The process of updating the 1987 University of Rhode Island (URI) Mission Statement was initiated as part of state system-wide effort to draft mission statements for each of the three state institutions of higher education. The statement would be compatible with the new Mission Statement adopted by the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education in August 1992. The University's current Mission Statement originated in a subcommittee of the Joint Educational Policy Committee (JEPC), a standing committee whose membership is jointly appointed by the Faculty Senate and the administration.
The subcommittee's working drafts were reviewed and critiqued by the JEPC. A final working draft was then circulated throughout the community under the leadership of the Faculty Senate Chair. The mission statement was approved by the Executive Board and full membership of the Faculty Senate. It was subsequently brought before the Planning and Program Committee of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education. In September of 1996, the membership of the full Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved the University's new Mission Statement, thus ending the approval process. This new Mission Statement will replace the previous Mission Statement in all appropriate publications such as the Bulletin of the University of Rhode Island: Graduate and Undergraduate Studies , and the University Manual .
Individual College Mission Statements. Historically, each college within the University has developed its own mission statement to reflect the specific character of the programs within the department. Presently, several of these mission statements are under review as these colleges are in the process of redefining their missions, structures and/or programmatic foci. At present, the College of Resource Development does not have a mission statement. The College of Business, the College of Continuing Education and the College of Human Science and Services have all revised their mission statements within the past two years. The remaining colleges have made no substantive changes to their mission statements in the last ten years. Some college and department mission statements are publicly available for wide dissemination on the University's web site (http://www.uri.edu). College mission statements are available in the work room. Some programs and services departments have mission statements available also, including the Sea Grant Program, Cooperative Extension Program, Dining Services, and URI's Police & Security.
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Accreditation Self- Study Mission and Purpose Subcommittee reviewed the University's most recently developed Mission Statement and found that a thorough process was used to re- evaluate the mission and that the statement appropriately describes the University as an institution in transition--a community which is future oriented and ready for the challenges of the next century.Furthermore, the subcommittee believes that the new mission is consistent with the Mission Statement developed by the Board of Governors (BOG), compliant with the Standards of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, and reflective of our unique and distinct character within the state system of public higher education and among institutions of higher education in Rhode Island.
The Mission Statement clearly identifies the students we serve now as well as those whom we aspire to include in our learning community. While the new mission is grounded in our historical land-grant tradition, it also recognizes our future role as a 21st century institution which is addressing the needs of our neighbors in the local, regional and global communities.
The University's Mission Statement describes the community's aspirations for excellence in the areas of scholarship, research and outreach. In general, the new Mission Statement acknowledges the more central role of change and the evolution of programs than the previous Mission Statement which was more inward-looking and descriptive of the current (at the time) situation.
The committee conducted a review of the individual college mission statements and found a wide range of formats and variability of content and focus in these statements. Several of the college statements have not been updated in over ten years. The on-line mission statements were also reviewed. An increasing number of these are being posted with increasing attention to improving the quality of appearance and content. The Public Disclosure Subcommittee also examined these and noted that URI needs to give more attention to the mission statements (among other documents) as they reflect the University and have a broad impact on image, student recruitment, and so on.
Following the site visit by the National College Athletics Administration (NCAA) Certification Review team June 9-11, 1997, the University's athletic programs were found to function in conformance with the University's mission. The NCAA Certification team noted that for URI's Athletics Program, various levels of mission statements were nested appropriately. The Self-Study Mission and Purpose Subcommittee did not find such hierarchical nor content meshing to be true across the University mission statements.
At a meeting of the Joint Education Policy Committee on March 26, 1997, the subject of college mission statements was raised by the Faculty Senate Chair. The committee discussed the issue and the findings of the NEASC Mission Subcommittee.
Although it would be difficult to alter the new Mission Statement at this time, some consideration of including reference to advanced technology and its impact on the curriculum, student learning and workplace efficiency should be considered in the next iteration. Because change is occurring at an increasingly rapid rate, individual colleges and the University as a whole should consider implementation of a more frequent mission statement review process.
To gain wide acceptance by Board of Governors members, faculty and others at the University, the administration needs to show that the new Mission Statement is an important element which guides decision-making in the areas of program direction, curricular matters and resource allocation. The committee recommends that the new Mission Statement be used along with other management tools such as the ProgramContribution Analysis in decisions regarding funding, faculty hiring, academic program changes, etc., and that the use of the Mission Statement, as such, be communicated widely to the community as a means to reinforce the centrality of the mission.
On March 26, 1997, the JEPC adopted a new policy regarding mission statements. The policy specified that all colleges will be asked to review and, if needed, to draft new mission statements using a process that ensures broad-based input from students, faculty, alumni and others. The colleges will be given one year to complete this task. Once completed, the draft mission statements will be submitted to the JEPC for comment and review. Final mission statements will be forwarded to the Faculty Senate for endorsement before adoption. A decision was made to mandate this review only through the college level. That review process will be announced and initiated in Fall 1997.
The subcommittee also recommended that a cycle which is two years ahead of the accreditation cycle be adopted to establish a regular review process of the University's Mission Statement. Subsequent to the adoption of a new University Mission Statement, each college would then be asked to review and rewrite, if necessary, a new college mission statement.
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