Mission Statement Differences

I was intrigued by a part of one of Mathissexy’s comments last week, so I did a little (and I do mean little) research.

In the comment, he asked if the HWC Mission Statement had changed, because it looked different to him. So, I compared the one on our Web site to the one in the catalogs, and they matched word for word. No change that I could see. The last time I looked at the District Mission Statement, though, I thought it looked different than I remembered it. I made a mental note to myself then to check it, but I guess I misplaced that one. Mathissexy’s question reminded me of it, though, so I did a little comparison.

In the catalog (the brand spanking new one that has all the colleges in it and just came out), it reads:

The City Colleges of Chicago delivers exceptional learning opportunities and educational services for diverse student populations in Chicago. We enhance knowledge, understanding, skills, collaboration, community service, and life-long learning by providing a broad range of quality, affordable courses, programs, and services to prepare students for success in a technologically advanced and increasingly interdependent global society. We work proactively to eliminate barriers to employment and to address and overcome casual [should be ‘causal’] factors underlying socio-economic disparities and inequities of access and graduation in higher education.

On the Website it now reads:

Through our seven colleges, we deliver exceptional learning opportunities and educational services for diverse student populations in Chicago.  We enhance knowledge, understanding, skills, collaboration, community service and life-long learning by providing a broad range of quality, affordable courses, programs, and services to prepare students for success in a technologically advanced and increasingly interdependent global society.  We work to eliminate barriers to employment and to address and overcome inequality of access and graduation in higher education.

See the differences? There are two. The one in the first line is a slight paraphrase that doesn’t really change anything. The one in the LAST line, though, seems to me to be a substantive change, changing the whole focus of the passage from a social justice mission (my reading, following what Wayne said about it when he came to visit campus), to an employment focus.

That’s a pretty big shift, I’d say. I remember being rather proud when the district office added that line about working to “address and overcome causal factors of socio-economic disparities and inequities of access and graduation in higher education.” You’d think we’d have heard something about it, no? Did I miss it?

The Purpose of a University Revisited

I mentioned this series when it started, but I missed the second posting, which is a review of Karl Jaspers’ The Idea of the University. One idea in it, echoing in some ways the educational philosophy of Morehouse and DuBois’ idea of the Talented Tenth:

Jaspers identifies three types of university students: True geniuses, the mediocre ones who make up the largest proportion of the student population, and a small group of talented youngsters. The geniuses require no instruction because in the university setting, they will take care of their own education. Teaching the large majority, however, is a waste of time, Jaspers says. All attention should, thus, focus on those few who are gifted but can develop their potential only when instructed by experienced professors.

Such guidance, though, will have to be gentle. The talented student develops best when inspiration replaces rigid formation. “Artificial guides such as the syllabi, curricular and other technical devices which convert the university into a high school, are in conflict with the ideal of the university,” Jaspers writes. “They have resulted from adapting the university to the needs of the average student.”

Ever have the feeling that most of your efforts are wasted and most of your seed is sown on inhospitable soil? We probably all have–luckily it passes and we all get a surprise or two. Still, the syllabus analysis is interesting, no?

The third one, on John Henry Cardinal Newman, is here. What does he think?

The other major concern for Newman is the kind of education that “trains the intellect in its own function.” Because the university must provide professional education, while also producing “good members of society” and transmitting the “art of social life,” it must devote part of its efforts to liberal education. “A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life,” he writes, “of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom; or what in a former Discourse I have ventured to call a philosophical habit.”

In fact, more so than educating the engineer or the economist, “a University training … aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life.”