University of Hawaii and Its Mission 2015 Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

University of Hawaii has set forth a set of Strategic Directions, its version of a mission statement, to guide the university's priorities during a seven-year period. This document claims that the university system is "committed to improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of current and future generations" ("Strategic Directions," 2015). For any student or faculty, actual or prospective, it is worth asking to what extent the university system follows through with the mission set forth in its Strategic Directions.

Of course, one difficulty with this avenue of questioning is that it raises certain questions about the nature of a document like this. Is an institutional mission statement meant to be understood as a ready-made, self-subsistent blueprint -- the kind of thing where it offers us a vision of something concrete that will actually be built? Or is it meant to be some kind of Platonic ideal which is aimed at but which we cannot ever meet? For a document that attempts to project the university seven years into the future, we also end up imagining what this will look like when it can be read in restrospect, to see if the document has been a blueprint or a fantasy. One way or the other, the Strategic Directions themselves (for we must bear in mind the self-identified plural character of the text) envision improvement in "social, economic and environmental well-being." It's worth noting how much this dovetails with contemporary concerns about universities -- where social matters (ranging from campus rape to racial inclusiveness) are a matter of hot debate nationwide, and the economic and environmental future of college-aged millennials is a subject for bleak pessimism. For an 18-year-old who potentially faces crippling debt when all schooling is finished, and who is told by reputable scientists that the chance of the human race surviving this century is roughly 50-50, a seven-year-plan for improvement seems a little dilatory.

The remainder of the Directions generates a well-meaning laundry-list of content which spills over into adjacent texts such as the High Performance Mission Driven System. What does this latter promise? "Significant operating efficiencies, as well as ... multiple entry points, pathways, and exit points" (HPMDS 2015). There is something slightly morbid about describing a university as though one were describing improvements to the freeway system in greater Los Angeles. The language here -- half MBA voodoo incantation, half automotive jargon -- is…

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Works Cited

James, Keith. "Corrupt State University: The Organizational Psychology of Native Experience in Higher Education." In Mihesuah, Devon Abbott, and Wilson, Angela Cavender (eds.) Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

University of Hawai'i. "High Performance Mission Driven System." 2015.

University of Hawai'i. "Strategic Directions." 2015.

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