Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Value of a Mission Statement

  Check out the attached sample mission statement and program objectives for Wake Forest University's Counseling Department.  What do you see here?  One finds a "Vision", "Mission", and "Overall Objectives". 
  The Vision describes what they "aspire to be".
"The Wake Forest Department of Counseling aspires to be a dynamic and engaging academic community that...

•Attracts a diverse community of scholars and students from across the country and throughout the world
•Employs the cohort model to integrate the knowledge, skills, and experiences of faculty and students
•Builds on established research and theories, current inquiries, and exemplary practices
•Creates service and research responses to meet current and future challenges to well-being and mental health
•Fosters a climate of critical thinking, ethical deliberation, and responsive action
•Honors the teacher-scholar ideals
•Models excellence in community leadership, advocacy and practice
•Collaborates with other academic entities."
    The Mission, in furthering their cause, describes more of what they actually do... but it is tied to values and principles.
"The Wake Forest University Department of Counseling prepares exemplary counselors to serve humanity - Pro Humanitate."
Their Mission Statement:

"We provide a rigorous intellectual climate and a supportive atmosphere for personal and professional development to a diverse student body in order to prepare professional counselors who

•Acquire knowledge and skills to practice effectively and ethically
•Value professional diligence and life-long learning
•Excel as community leaders, advocates and practitioners.
•Possess a deep awareness of themselves and of their impact on others
•Commit to the compassionate service of humanity and foster the well-being of people at the local, state, national and international level."
  Think about the difference between these two: the Vision; versus the Mission.  In my experience, some well-meaning organizational efforts have Visions, but no Missions.
  I have seen many problems come about apparently as a result of such.  What do you think?  The Mission Statement usually embraces the Core Values upon which the drive for an organization rests. 
  For example: If an organization that promotes socioeconomic equality has:
  • A Vision of socioeconomic equality.
  • A Mission to promote socioeconomic equality.
  • Core Values that include and jive with the principle of "equality";
Then it would seem illogical and even immoral for that organization to realize their Vision of socioeconomic equality through violent means.  If virtue is that which we do in order to acheive our values; then if we are virtuous, then our means reflect our values.
  Think about it.  Some might say that this is one reason why Marxism frequently fails.  Then end result or Vision is that of "equality"; but the means often include, "A dominant overthrow of the ruling class."

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