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2.4 Institutional Mission PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 September 2008 11:32

2.4 Institutional Mission

The institution has a clearly defined, comprehensive, and published mission statement that is specific to the institution and appropriate for higher education. The mission addresses teaching and learning and, where applicable, research and public service.

Responsible Unit: Board of Trustees

Compliance Judgment



North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) has a clearly defined and comprehensive mission statement that has received approval from Board of Trustees and that is disseminated to the university's constituents. The A&T mission statement draws on the purpose of the University of North Carolina as laid out in Section 116-1 of the state's General Statutes [1] and the historical foundations of the university as an 1890 historically black land-grant university [2] and [3].

Section 116-1 of the General Statutes of North Carolina lays out the general purpose of the University of North Carolina, which includes A&T as a constituent institution. Specifically, subsection (b) of Section 116-1 states:

"The University of North Carolina is a public, multi-campus university dedicated to the service of North Carolina and its people. It encompasses the 16 diverse constituent institutions and other educational, research, and public service organizations. Each shares in the overall mission of the university. That mission is to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society. This mission is accomplished through instruction, which communicates the knowledge and values and imparts the skills necessary for individuals to lead responsible, productive, and personally satisfying lives; through research, scholarship, and creative activities, which advance knowledge and enhance the educational process; and through public service, which contributes to the solution of societal problems and enriches the quality of life in the State. ... Teaching and learning constitute the primary service that the university renders to society. Teaching, or instruction, is the primary responsibility of each of the constituent institutions. The relative importance of research and public service, which enhance teaching and learning, varies among the constituent institutions, depending on their overall missions [1]."

A&T's current mission statement directly addresses the UNC mission to "discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society" through teaching, research, and public service. Specifically, the mission statement reads as follows:

"North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public, doctoral/research intensive, land-grant University committed to fulfilling its fundamental purposes through exemplary undergraduate and graduate instruction, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service. The University offers degree programs at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels. As one of North Carolina's three engineering colleges, the University offers Ph.D. programs in engineering, as well as two interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in Leadership Studies and Energy and Environmental Studies. Basic and applied research is conducted by faculty and students in eight research clusters: Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Computational Science and Engineering, Public Health, Biotechnology and Biosciences, Leadership and Community Development, Information Technology, Transportation and Logistics, and Agriculture, Energy and Environment." [4]

The current mission statement is a shorter and slightly modified version of the mission statement that has been in place since September 2001 as a result of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University FUTURES Strategic Visioning Process that began in fall 2000 with the aim of updating the strategic plan for the university. The more extensive version of the mission statement, included in the A&T 2006-2008 Undergraduate Bulletin, clearly laid out the FUTURES vision of the university as an interdisciplinary institution. It stated:

"North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University aspires to be the premier interdisciplinary-centered university in America that builds on its comparative advantages in engineering, technology, and business; a strong civil rights legacy; and status as an 1890 land-grant institution. The challenges of preparing our students to meet the complex needs of the global society necessitate that these exemplary and relevant educational experiences are inherently global in nature and interdisciplinary in focus. The commitment to excellence and the unique NC A&T SU legacy of nurturing the individual student remain strong.

"The University's evolution toward interdisciplinary responds to societal and intellectual issues that require new solutions. Cross-functional teams with expertise from a variety of disciplines and perspectives are the best hope for the solution of complex modern challenges. As new problem-solving methods are needed, new disciplines are created at the intersection of old ones. Students are enthusiastic about courses that link learning to contemporary issues. An interdisciplinary education provides students with not only essential knowledge, but also connections across the disciplines, and finally, the ability to apply knowledge to life beyond the campus.

"Interdisciplinary studies build upon disciplinary excellence while inspiring new possibilities beyond the strengths of traditional fields of study. This model provides a focus for curriculum innovation, fosters communication across disciplines, and promotes partnerships with public and private entities. This university creates a learning environment in which opportunities to build solutions are based on expertise in more than one discipline. Teaching focuses more on the ability to organize, assess, apply, and create interdisciplinary knowledge rather than the transmission of existing knowledge to students.

"The teaching and learning process involves not only a commitment to knowledge and research, but also appreciates the influences of diverse thoughts, values, processes, resources, and structures as it seeks to organize and plan lifelong learning experiences. High expectations are supported by an infrastructure that facilitates the opportunity for constituents within the University to achieve and excel individually and collectively. Opportunities for learning are enhanced by varied methods of instruction, 24-hour availability, and through partnerships that are collaborative and cooperative.

"To be productive citizens of the 21st century, our students must be globally informed. Thus, current efforts to globalize the curriculum will continue. In addition, students will have the opportunity to enhance their undergraduate education by taking part in overseas study, internships, or service learning experiences. Some may even earn a certificate in international studies. Likewise, international partnerships enhance interdisciplinary efforts and provide new opportunities for faculty and students to participate in and contribute to global change. The University exists for a society that is committed to research, knowledge and service to humankind. The physical space for learning is not to be limited to a specific site, but deliverable in a variety of locations with a multiplicity of available resources.

"The interdisciplinary-centered university envisions its role to serve the needs of individuals and groups who seek continuous opportunities for intellectual stimulation and growth. Utilizing the traditional disciplines and technological resources, this University fosters excellence in communication, enhances critical thinking, conducts research, and transmits new knowledge to a community that seeks to improve the quality of life for all in the 21st century.

"To realize the promise of the interdisciplinary-centered university, North Carolina A & T must initiate and nurture strategic partnerships, while concurrently enhancing and diversifying its resource base [5]."

This comprehensive mission statement reflects the unique nature of A&T as a historically black college and university (HBCU), its role as an 1890s land-grant institution, and a constituent member of the University of North Carolina, and encompasses the tripartite focus on teaching, research, and public service. Further, the mission reflects A&T's designation as a research university (high research activity) in the Carnegie Classification [6]. Finally, the mission reflects the attention to the interdisciplinary and global opportunities and challenges that students face in the twenty-first century.

This mission statement emerged from an intensive and inclusive strategic visioning process initiated in fall 2000 by Chancellor James C. Renick in his second year in office. Dubbed FUTURES, this initiative involved the formation of a Planning and Resource Council including twenty-three members representing the campus and community, as well as separate internal scan, external scan, and values teams "designated to analyze the current campus environment, and to develop three scenarios for discussion at numerous town meetings and during a two-day retreat held in April 2001. From these sessions, one scenario was selected to be implemented over the next few years - the Interdisciplinary University." [7] [8]

The accompanying FUTURES Vision Statement operationalized the mission statement of the university and provided five goals for the university that flowed out of the FUTURES strategic planning process: [9]:

"Building upon a solid foundation in academic programs, the faculty, staff and students endorsed the FUTURES strategic vision toward an interdisciplinary university. The adoption of the vision statement and a set of five goals are aimed at enhancing the culture of high standards in all programs and facilities and for all stakeholders - students, faculty, staff, alumni, community, public and private sector friends of the University.

"North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a learner-centered community that develops and preserves intellectual capital through interdisciplinary learning, discovery, engagement, and operational excellence.

"Goal One: Establish and ensure an interdisciplinary focus for North Carolina A&T that mandates overall high quality, continued competitiveness, and effective involvement of global strategic partners in marketing and delivery of programs and operations.

"Goal Two: Deliver visionary and distinctive interdisciplinary learning, discovery, and engagement that include collaborations and partnerships as part of the learning experience.

"Goal Three: Foster a responsive learning environment that utilizes an efficiently integrated administrative support system for high quality programs, research and collegial interactions, and effectively disseminates consistent information to University stakeholders.

"Goal Four: Provides superior: readily available student services and programs that recognize and respond to diverse student needs.

"Goal Five: Enhance and diversify the University's resource base through effective fund raising, entrepreneurial initiatives, enhanced facilities, and sponsored research programs."

The overall goal of the FUTURES strategic vision initiative was to transform A&T into a premier interdisciplinary university focused on enhancing student learning through global and interdisciplinary collaboration; developing visionary research knowledge through collaborative partnerships; engaging with the community, state, and nation through its educational and research activities; and increasing research, fund raising, and entrepreneurial activities to provide a greater and more diversified resource base to support FUTURES initiatives. During the past eight years the FUTURES strategic vision provided the institutional framework for general education curricular reform, new degree programs, a seed-grant program, new capital projects, and an annual campus-wide retreat focused on evaluating the university's progress toward its FUTURES goals.

The FUTURES Strategic Visioning Process, which included the mission and vision statements above, was approved by the A&T Board of Trustees on September 12, 2001. Assessment of progress toward the FUTURES mission and vision was done annually from 2003 through 2006 and is summarized in the annual FUTURES Report [10] [11] [12] [13].

The university mission statement has recently (January 2009) undergone review in response to the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Initiative, which began in 2007 under the direction of the UNC Board of Governors, the UNC Tomorrow Commission, and the Scholars Council. These groups collectively represent the governing body for the UNC System; business, education, government, and nonprofit leaders from across the state; and university faculty.

"The purpose of the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Initiative was to determine how the University of North Carolina can respond more directly and proactively to the 21st century challenges facing North Carolina both now and in the future through the efficient and effective fulfillment of its three-pronged mission of teaching, research and scholarship, and public service. The outcomes of this Initiative will guide and shape current and future priorities, resource allocations, existing and future programs, and strategic plans and missions of the University of North Carolina, its 17 constituent institutions and its affiliated entities to ensure that UNC not only becomes more proactive and responsive to the needs of our state, but remains so in the years to come as the people of North Carolina continue to confront the myriad challenges of the rapidly changing, knowledge-based global economy and environment of the 21st century [14]."

As part of the Phase II Response to the UNC Tomorrow Initiative, each UNC campus was asked to review its mission statement for consistency with UNC Tomorrow priorities. Reviewing the current mission in light of the A&T Phase II Response Plan (submitted in January, 2009), an A&T mission review action team determined that:

"...the three-pronged mission of teaching, research and scholarship, and public service of the University of North Carolina aligned very well with NC A&T's tripartite land grant mission of teaching, research and extension. NC A&T's current mission and vision statements emphasize interdisciplinary programs and scholarly activities in a learner-centered community promoting collaborative learning (teaching), discovery (research and scholarship) and engagement (public service and extension). As such, NC A&T's current mission and vision statements are in harmony with, and supportive of, the stated mission of the University of North Carolina. Moreover, our mission is appropriate to our specific, mandated (federal legislation has impacted strongly the mission of NC A&T) and unique role as a land-grant university." [15]

As a result, only minor changes in the current mission statement have been recommended in the Phase II Response Plan. The proposed revised mission statement, which is only slightly modified from the current mission statement, appears below:

"North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public, "high research activity," 1890 land-grant university committed to exemplary teaching, learning, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service. The University offers degrees at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels and a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of academic disciplines. Building on our comparative educational advantages and our unique civil rights heritage, the University provides interdisciplinary and integrated curricula and co-curricula opportunities that develop and support the intellectual and cognitive competencies of our students. Our graduates are dynamic citizens of the diverse global community and are prepared for the 21st century." [15]

Seeking to bridge FUTURES and UNC Tomorrow, in October 2008, Chancellor Stanley F. Battle appointed the "Building Upon the Legacy: Strategic Planning and Resource Council" to "serve as an advisory committee that would provide scholarly and thoughtful advice with respect to planning and resource allocation." [16] The resulting proposed strategic plan "is designed to capture the most important initiatives and priorities of the University, and to place them within the context of a set of overarching goals and values for the campus. It also sets the framework for the school/college and departmental plans."

The strategic plan includes eight proposed "legacy goals":

Proposed Legacy Goals

  • Goal 1 - Deliver graduate educational programs focused on intentional interdisciplinarity and globalization.
  • Goal 2 - Increase scholarly and creative research.
  • Goal 3 - Foster a responsive learning environment that increases access to higher education.
  • Goal 4 - Develop and deliver programs to improve the health and wellness of all people and communities in North Carolina.
  • Goal 5 - Strengthen and expand our outreach, engagement and economic development programs.
  • Goal 6 - Provide superior, readily available student services.
  • Goal 7 - Provide superior services and programs in the critically important areas of enrollment management, human capital management, information technology and business processes.
  • Goal 8 - Enhance and diversify the university's resource base through effective fund raising, entrepreneurial initiatives and enhanced facilities.

These goals are consistent with the UNC Tomorrow priorities and build on the FUTURES initiative that was initiated in 2000. The anticipated completion date for the strategic plan is fall 2009, pending approval from the Board of Trustees.

In order to communicate the university's mission to its constituents, A&T publishes the mission statement in its online Graduate Catalog [17] and Undergraduate Bulletin [4]. In addition, hard copies of the Graduate Catalog and Undergraduate Bulletin are distributed to incoming students during the graduate and undergraduate orientation sessions, respectively.

Supporting Documents

[1] NC General Statutes, Chapter 116, Section 116-1, Higher Education

[2] Second Morrill Act 1890

[3] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2008-2010, Historical Statement

[4] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2008-2010, Mission Statement

[5] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2006-2008, Mission Statement

[6] Carnegie Classifications, North Carolina A&T State University

[7] FUTURES Home Page

[8] BOT Minutes, September 12, 2001

[9] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2006-2008, Vision

[10] FUTURES, Uncompromising Excellence, 2003

[11] FUTURES, Strategy in Motion, 2004

[12] FUTURES, Progress in Action, 2005

[13] FUTURES, Vision Evolves . . . The Legacy Begins, 2006

[14] UNC Tomorrow Commission Final Report, December 2007

[15] UNC Tomorrow Phase II Response, Revised Mission Statement

[16] Aggie Report, Special Strategic Planning Edition, Vol. 10, No. 17, April 17, 2009

[17] Graduate Catalog 2008-2010

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 February 2010 10:04 )

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