Guiding university statements miss mark, need to reflect why UCCS is here

Oct. 27, 2014

Scribe Staff
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UCCS has been around since 1965. You’d think that would be plenty of time to figure out exactly what our purpose is. Nope.

Even with all the strategic plans and planning committees we have for our campus, we have to make sure the guiding policies of this school make sense. This is especially true for the mission and vision that guide everything this school does.

Here is the mission of our university, as explained on the UCCS website: “The Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado shall be a comprehensive baccalaureate and specialized graduate research university with selective admission standards.

The Colorado Springs campus shall offer liberal arts and sciences, business, engineering, health sciences, and teacher preparation undergraduate degree programs, and a selected number of master’s and doctoral degree programs.”

Doesn’t that make you all warm and fuzzy inside?

So many words. This doesn’t have to be that convoluted. A mission is supposed to explain why you exist, not what you are.

We know what the university does. Explaining what we are does not constitute a mission. We know that UCCS has the different colleges, we know what type of degree programs are offered. What this mission falls painfully, obviously, short of explaining is why UCCS is here.

It can shortened to one word. Students. The mission should be about students. That’s it, that’s all.

This school exists (or should exist, as sometimes folks need reminding) for the students that are here. Everything we do should be tailored to students and adjusted to fit their needs. But how can UCCS do so when the mission, one of the guiding documents of the university, doesn’t have a word about students?

The mission of The Scribe is not to print words and pictures. We know that is what we do. Our mission, as taken from our staff handbook, explains why we are here:

– strive to present the truth and report the news in as accurate, balanced and responsible manner as possible, while adhering to our code of ethics;

– ensure that all students have access to freedom of expression, while maintaining a clear distinction between news reports and opinion, and

– enhance the education of the university community by providing a forum for exchange of opinions and ideas

That’s why we exist. That’s why we are the oldest student organization on campus. We have a clear understanding of not only what we are supposed to do, but why we are supposed to do it, something the mission statement of the university does not accomplish.

Now, the vision of UCCS, also taken directly from the university website. Not much better.

“UCCS, a premier comprehensive undergraduate and specialized graduate research university, provides students with academically rigorous and life-enriching experiences in a vibrant university community. We advance knowledge, integrate student learning with the spirit of discovery, and broaden access to higher education for the benefit of southern Colorado, the state, nation and world.”

Again, this doesn’t have to be so hard. Or near as lengthy.

Where are we heading? That’s what the vision should explain, and this does a better job of that. But it’s still not where we need to be. Make it simplistic. Make it something people can identify with and apply to their daily adventures at UCCS.

No one can identify with a paragraph explanation of something that can be said in one sentence, maximum.

Make it a common goal that everyone, especially students at this university, can see themselves contributing to, be it five, 15 or 50 years down the road.

The final thought: while these are guiding documents, and they need to be consistent to ensure solid planning, they are not the end all be all.

With the rate this university is changing, there have to be constant adjustments in how we view ourselves and how we do things. Make them unique and applicable to UCCS, not general, uninspiring and wrong.