UP on a mission

By The Beacon | October 6, 2010 9:00pm

Mission statement is undergoing some changes this year

The UP mission statement was revised in preparation for the 2010 reaccreditation. The mission statement changed to teaching and learning, faith and formation and service and leadership. (Scott Chia -- The Beacon)

By Enid Spitz, Staff Writer -- spitz13@up.edu

Teaching. Faith. Service.

How many times have you heard these words at University of Portland events or read them on banners around campus?

They're not just the University's pet words. These ideals have been at the center of the UP mission statement for many years now.

However, in preparation for the 2010 school year's national reaccreditation and strategic planning, the UP mission statement was revised and the school raised new banners. While teaching, faith and service are still central to the mission statement, there are now three core mission couplets: teaching and learning, faith and formation, service and leadership.

Revising the mission statement is just the beginning of the administration's efforts to devise a strategic plan to see the University through 2016. Last week, all students and staff received an e-mailed survey from the Strategic Planning Steering Committee asking for their thoughts on the planning.

"Widespread community input is essential to the planning process," the e-mail said.

Elayne Shapiro, professor of communication studies and co-chair of the new Teaching and Learning committee, was struck by the broader scope of UP's new mission statement.

"This is what I notice is different: ‘interdisciplinary,'" she said.

"We're putting a more active voice into it," Fr. Gerry Olinger C.S.C., executive assistant to the president, said. "The big change is expanding those couplets to better reflect who we are as the University of Portland."

UP is "in a simultaneous process of retrospective analysis and visionary planning that will make Academic Year 2011 a defining moment for the University," according to a recent press release.

Every five years the University creates a new strategic plan. Every ten years, it undergoes the accreditation process. Both of these events fall within this school year.

To go along with the new overarching themes, UP's plan includes three committees, one to represent each couplet. Faculty and staff from different departments will lead and participate in the various committees. Students will be involved too. The committee chairs, Olinger said, were asked to appoint students from across the board, from ASUP representatives to student athletes.

"It's important to have a perspective across the campus and that all those voices are heard," Olinger said. "That's how we make a plan. We want all of that input."

Right now the committees are beginning to come together.

"The first meeting was last week," junior Jordan Young, one of two students selected to serve on the committee for teaching and learning, said. "They talked about the general plan. And then we'll have another meeting probably by the beginning of October."

According to Young, the committees are currently developing their main goals and a plan for reaching those goals within the next five years.

"With a strategic planning committee you normally survey the population to gather information and set goals," Shapiro said.

The main job of these new committees is to act as a link between the mission statement on paper and its role on campus. With such changes being made this year, the University has potential to meet this goal right now.

"The committees will engage the entire campus about how to be taken from good to premier," Olinger said. "We're at a position of strength. Now, how do we improve?"

The mission statement is the foundation of UP, a declaration of what exactly the University of Portland stands for.

As the school undergoes changes this year, the University will continue encouraging student feedback. Upcoming meetings, in addition to the online survey, will provide opportunities for the campus to give input.

Some students already have an opinion.

"Nike's mission statement is ‘Just Do It,'" sophomore Megan Markus said, "I think UP's should just be: ‘Teaching, Faith, Service.' Simple."