Chapter 3: SMSU as a Future-Oriented Organization

Being Driven by the Mission

As delineated in the previous section, during the past ten years, the University has included in its planning a clearly stated mission. This mission was also described in this report’s opening chapter, “Missouri State: An Evolving, Mission-Focused Organization.”  In this section, the report details the ways in which the institution’s public affairs mission drives Missouri State as it considers the future. In particular, the report recognizes the numerous sites where the University mission is clearly stated or where units within the institution articulate their missions in ways that enhance the larger, University mission.

The Missouri State mission is clear. This clarity was formalized with the statutory creation of a statewide mission in public affairs, signed into law in 1995. The broader mission of the University is published in all catalogs (Undergraduate-pp. 6 & 7, Graduate-p. 8), in its sequence of long-range plans (Welcoming the 21st Century, Countdown to the Centennial, and Daring to Excel), and in recruitment materials such as the Admissions Guide (p 8). The University’s numerous Web pages contain clear statements related to the mission. All general education classes must contain a public affairs component (“Aims and Goals of General Education,” Undergraduate Catalogue - pp 80-82).

Ongoing public dialogues about the mission have not only allowed for slight revisions but also have assured that the mission has been a part of the planning process and of the University’s visions for the future. These dialogues included a series of roundtable discussions prior to the adoption of Welcoming the 21st Century, prior to the adoption of Countdown to the Centennial, and in 2005 (during the Centennial celebration year, and in preparation of Daring to Excel).

Considerable evidence, existing prior to this Self-Study, demonstrates that the public affairs mission pervades the University. Further documentation exists in the responses from committees, offices, and academic units to three questions posed by the HLC Steering Committee:

  • How does the mission of your academic department/committee/office fit with the University mission? 
  • What policies and procedures are used by the department/committee/ office to improve student learning for the future?
  • How is the department/committee/office preparing for the future?

The responses unanimously stated that they are aligned with and support the broader mission of the University. The process of reflecting on the congruency of department and unit missions and the University’s mission has been beneficial, as it has raised an area of ambiguity and a challenge that the University community should address. That is, although the responses to the questions above show widespread support for the University mission, other survey instruments have shown that some faculty do not fully understand or do not see how their work supports the University’s public affairs mission. In contrast with the responses by departments and colleges to questions posed by the HLC Steering Committee, a recent study, Institutional Priorities and Faculty Rewards (often referred to as “the Diamond Report”) revealed inconsistent perceptions of the University’s mission, its application in programs, and its relationship to faculty roles and rewards. The inconsistent perceptions of the University’s public affairs mission, revealed in the Diamond report and the HLC unit reports, may have been influenced by such factors as how questions were phrased and who answered them. Nonetheless, the Steering Committee recognizes that some questions about the University’s public affairs mission still exist. In particular, some faculty expressed a lack of understanding about the mission’s goals, how they should be incorporated into courses, and how the implementation of the mission is recognized in the roles and rewards structure. One challenge the University faces is clarifying these aspects of the mission.

Additional examples of evidence that the University’s mission is clearly incorporated as it plans for the future include

Criteria and Core Components supported in this section include 1a, 1c, 2d, 3a, 4c.


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