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Mission Possible

What does your office mission statement mean to you? Is it something that you feel you try to achieve every day in your role? Do you feel like it represents your office and the work you do?

These are big questions, right? Not only is it important to have a mission statement, but it’s also critical to have a GOOD mission statement.

No matter your position or your interaction with students; how long you have worked at UT or how busy you are; you must be able to identify and execute your department’s mission statement every day. Yes, that’s right—every single day.

Luckily, I believe in you. We all do! Creating a mission statement doesn’t have to be scary and you can totally do this.

A few months ago, I worked with Bonnie Johnson, coordinator of the Pride Center, on the mission statement for her office and she knocked it out of the park by using four simple steps1:

Step 1: Identify your situation

Step 2: State your philosophy

Step 3: What do you aspire to be?

Step 4: How will you get there?

Using those steps, she created this:

The mission of the Pride Center is to provide academic and social support for the LGBTQ+ community at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We believe that every student at UT deserves acceptance and celebration of their gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and we strive to be a space for all members of the UT community to engage with and explore issues relating to gender and sexuality. Our mission is accomplished through our educational programming focusing on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; our contributions to and maintenance of a campus LGBTQ+ community; and advocating for equitable access for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff on campus.

Talk about a mission statement!

Bonnie focused on writing a mission statement in 50 to 100 words—being able to identify who you are, what you believe, what you want to do, and how you will do it.

I have broken down the Pride Center’s mission statement into four easy steps below. You will be able to knock this out in no time, and maybe even have time to help a friend with theirs.

Step 1: Identify your situation

This can include the history of your department, the place, the demographic, or the tradition.  Think of this as setting the stage for your entire mission statement:

The mission of the Pride Center is to provide academic and social support for the LGBTQ+ community at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The bolded section above identifies:

  1. Demographic = LGBTQ+ community
  2. Place = University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Step 2: State your philosophy

Your philosophy is the foundational belief(s) of your department. What are your core values? What drives you?

We believe that every student at UT deserves acceptance of their gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and…

The bolded section above identifies 3 core values or philosophies:

  1. Value 1 = every student at UT deserves acceptance of their gender identity
  2. Value 2 = every student at UT deserves acceptance of their gender expression
  3. Value 3 = every student at UT deserves acceptance of their sexual orientation
  4. What drives these values = every student at UT deserves acceptance

Step 3: What do you aspire to be?

Here is where you dream big. Aim for the moon. If there were no restrictions, budget and resources limitless, what do you want your department to be? You should allow your professional standards to guide the development of this part of your mission statement.

we strive to be a space for all members of the UT community to engage with and explore issues relating to gender and sexuality.

That is a fantastic goal. UT is a big place, and the Pride Center aspires to be a space for ALL members of the UT community. That’s thousands of people!  But, they dreamed big.  This is what the Pride Center aspires to be.

Now all they need is to figure out is how they plan to do this.

Step 4: How will you get there?

This is the last step, and arguably the most important one. You already stated who you are, you stated what you value, and you just identified your biggest aspiration.  Now, it is time for you to state how you plan to get there. This part of your mission statement is connected to your strategic plan priorities.

Our mission is accomplished through our educational programming focusing on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; our contributions to and maintenance of a campus LGBTQ+ community; and advocating for equitable access for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff on campus.

The Pride Center has identified three specific, measurable actions to reach their aspiration:

  1. Action 1: Provide educational programming.
    • The Pride Center went above and beyond to state what kind of programming earning them extra points!
  2. Action 2: Contributions and maintenance of community
    • The Pride Center was specific here, where they narrowed down who their community is. The magic is in the details, friends.
  3. Action 3: Advocate
    • The Pride Center knocked it out of the park by stating what they were advocating for, and for whom.

 

One last part that is critical to the successful creation of your mission statement. Each department’s mission statement should support and align with the university and division mission statements. Try to infuse similar language. The university uses phrases like “spirit of excellence” and “nation’s finest.” The Division of Student Life incorporates “fully productive members” and “global community.”  The exact use of these phrases is not necessary. You want to capture the essence of these phrases where possible.

And that, my friends, is all there is to it. A mission statement is the very first step to getting your department on the right track. You will need it for daily operations, you will need it to guide your budget request, and you will need it to keep you focused on your big, aspirational goals.

One may argue that your department starts and ends with your mission statement. I will just leave that for you to ponder…

In the meantime, you know where to find me! I love talking about this stuff, so reach out and we will work together to get your mission statement in the best shape it has ever been in (to date).

Aim high, and next time we will chat about how your mission statement will influence your office priorities.

 

Good luck and call me if you need me! I’m here to help.

Melissa Brown HeadshotMelissa Brown, Ph.D.
Director of Assessment & Strategic Initiatives

865-974-1376
mabrown@utk.edu

 


1 Ferrandino, Blaise. “Helping Institutions Succeed: A Generative Approach to Analyzing Mission Statements.” Presentation, SACSCOC Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2018.