President Michael Malone
Long-Range Planning Committee
Revisiting the Mission Statement
May 13, 1997

Included in the President's February 7, 1992, Charge (See Montana State University Long-Range Plan, pp. 20) to the Long-Range Planning Committee was a request to consider the "...fundamental university mission regarding teaching, research and outreach..." The 1994 document defines the mission of Montana State University as ", broadly defined to encompass teaching, research, and creative activities, and outreach." The following are the italicized statements defining the mission:

Teaching: "to develop and graduate a student population with a sound knowledge base in their chosen disciplines; with well-developed skills in oral, written, and interpersonal communications and in critical, analytical, and creative thinking; with multicultural and global awareness; and with character traits such as leadership, responsibility, honesty, objectivity, and collegiality."
Basic and applied research and creative activities: "To produce a body of basic and applied research and creative works that advances knowledge in the sciences, liberal and creative arts, and professions; that complements the University's educational mandates; and that meets the social, cultural, and economic needs of Montana, the region, and the nation."
Outreach: "To provide outreach to citizens throughout Montana that draws upon the University's teaching and research strengths and support program areas; and to form effective and creative partnerships with business, government, educational and service organization to enhance the development and utilization of the state's human, economic, and natural resources."

These definitions are broad, but directive for the land grant MSU campus in Bozeman. The mission statement, however, does not offer a vision for the other campuses in the MSU system. This is a matter of concern to the LRP Committee as resources are interchanged among MSU-Bozeman and the other campuses. The Committee thinks that consolidation should be reflected in the mission statement, or that each unit in the system should have a LRP that is coordinated with the other units.

Resources should be allocated to efforts which support the university mission. MSU-Bozeman is a comprehensive land-grant university which offers an important on-campus experience. Decisions must be based on careful, long-range planning and coordination.

It is important to maintain some flexibility to seize opportunities, but without standards and vision, the default appears to be one of grasping for opportunities that might be contrary to MSU's mission. Political expediency is almost surely a force which would be difficult to resist without a long-range master plan. A long-range plan reflecting a vision of what MSU could become, and standards by which to make decisions allows the members of the Executive Committee and UFPUB to make reasoned decisions around scarce resources.

A clearly defined and shared vision of mission is perhaps the most essential characteristic of a strong university. Montana State University's survival in a climate of budget reductions and distrust of government will depend upon building a vision shared by the university community and the people of the State of Montana. This should be the university's highest priority.

cc:    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Chapman
Vice President for Research, Creativity and Technology Transfer Robert Swenson
Vice President for Administration and Finance Robert Specter
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Allen Yarnell
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Joseph Fedock
1996-97 Faculty Council Chair Norman Eggert
1997-98 Faculty Council Chair Gary Harkin