Faculty Senate Discussion

Mission Statement Task Force

Filed under Mission Statement Task Force by salvers@ufl.edu on August 10, 2012 | 2 Comments

All faculty other than task force members and faculty senators are invited to contribute to the process of rewriting UF’s Mission Statement by posting comments here. Concerns and ideas, as well as recommendations of well-written and effective mission statements elsewhere, would all be appreciated. Comments from other members of the university community are also welcome.

Please note that comments are invited here as a fact-finding process, and that debate of issues that might come before the Senate are reserved for public meetings. Accordingly, independent statements are encouraged, but not replies to other comments. Since comments are routed through the Faculty Senate office, there may be a brief delay before your comment is posted.

Scott Nygren
Mission Statement Task Force
Immediate Past Chair, Faculty Senate

2 Responses to “Mission Statement Task Force”

  1. To unpack a previous comment that a public university’s mission is to create and distribute knowledge:

    This knowledge includes a distilled -experience- of creating and distributing knowledge (not commodifiable or scalable). Only this would ensure that the living knowledge base progresses rather than deteriorates through a lifetime and through generations.

    To this end, a public university’s mission must include:

    (a) Core liberal arts, sciences and humanities education for all students

    (b) Faculty and students who conduct basic, fundamental research driven by deep and sustained curiosity – as distinct from translational research that follows a clear path towards specific economic goals.

    (c) Integration of teaching and research.
    Conducting basic, fundamental research is essential in the long term for effective transmission of knowledge at all levels. It is also crucial for developing in the student a disposition for lifelong questioning and learning.

    (d) Academic freedom (without which a university is no more than a factory, lacking the energy of curiosity, inspiration and motivation)

    (e) Campus as a place to continuously reflect, learn and experiment with building a vibrant, progressive, democratic society and environment in which every individual being’s full potential can be realized, and waste is minimized.

    (f) Transparency and Inclusiveness – encouraging service and participation in decision making by all members of the university community.

    (g) Leveling the playing field by providing maximum possible access to a demanding educational experience of substantial intrinsic value. This should be contrasted with dumbing down standards, and confusing quality of education with superficial fame/visibility or with keeping up with fashionable trends or with acquisition of expensive facilities for their own sake.

    Meera Sitharam

  2. I hope you won’t mind a premature intervention regarding the UF Mission Statement.

    Although I’ve always been skeptical of mission statements for complex organizations, I think the virtue of this exercise is to focus the mind on what is truly important. Toward that end, I would urge you to come up with something that is pithy but clearly puts academic priorities at the core. I confess I’ve fantasized about seeing a UF president stand on the steps of Tigert and pronounce these words:

    “The core mission of UF is the creation and distribution of knowledge in its broadest form.”

    I realize this kind of statement can be unpacked and may inspire debates about the commodification of information and so on. But to me, it encapsulates what we should prioritize (and often don’t) as an institution.

    Thanks for whatever you can do.

    Ken

    Kenneth D. Wald
    Distinguished Professor of Political Science
    Samuel R. “Bud” Shorstein Professor of American Jewish Culture & Society
    University of Florida
    POB 117325
    Gainesville, FL 32611-7325
    Office Phone: 352-273-2391
    Email: kenwald@ufl.edu
    Home page: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/kenwald

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