Making College Happen-Integrating Commitment to Access, Success, and Engagement in the Institutional Mission

Integrating Commitment to Access, Success, and Engagement in the Institutional Mission

Nationally, the imperative for college access and success is central to maintaining the strength of our democracy and our economic health. It is also essential for responding to growing inequality and creating meaningful opportunities for students from all communities. To engage effectively, institutions of higher education need to consider how their teaching, research, and service missions align with this national challenge. While attention to public purpose is built into most college and university mission statements, a growing number are choosing to focus institutional engagement activities on access to higher education as a key element of their public value.

This section guides campus decisions around integrating access and engagement into institutional mission.

1. Guide to Integrating Access and Engagement in the Institutional Mission

The mission guides the purposes of the institution. Incorporating a commitment to access and success within an institution’s mission statement is a deliberative process involving campus stakeholders, governing boards, communities, businesses, and the public. This section includes examples of process questions to consider and examples from institutions laying the foundation for commitment to access through their mission statements.

Across institutional types, those institutions with a deliberate and explicit commitment to the success of all students graduate low-income students and students of color at much higher rates then their peer institutions. National studies identify administrative leadership as important for communicating commitment and for developing a results-oriented institutional culture in which academic and student affairs collaborate to provide programs and services that engage students, build a strong sense of community, and track internal data to inform ongoing improvement (Engle and O’Brien, 200; American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 2007; Carey, 2005). Incorporating the values of access and engagement in the institutional mission and vision signals its priority for the campus and enables campuses to develop “an architecture of inclusion” (Sturm, Eatman, Saltmarsh, & Bush, 2011).

Examples of key questions to consider for institutions seeking to incorporate access to higher education as part of the core mission might include:

  • How does the campus value engagement and access?
  • What role does the campus serve in the local community and with other educational institutions (such as the local K-12 systems?)
  • How will the campus ensure that future generations of students will be prepared to succeed in college?
  • What are the institution’ existing access, success, and engagement efforts? Are these initiatives at the core of the teaching or research programs of the campus or at the periphery?

2. Examples of missions, visions, goals and values that reflect access and engagement

Access and engagement at the state-level, at minority-serving institutions, and private colleges/universities are below:

3. Further reading

Musil, Caryn McTighe. (2010). Remapping education for social responsibility: Civic, global and U.S. diversity. In John Saltmarsh and Matthew Hartley (Eds.). To serve a larger purpose: Engagement for democracy and the transformation of higher education. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Susan Sturm, Timothy Eatman, John Saltmarsh, and Adam Bush (2011). Full participation: Building the architecture for diversity and public engagement in higher education. New York: Columbia University School of Law Center for Institutional and Social Change.

Adrianna Kezar, Anthony Chambers, John Burkhardt (2005). Higher Education for the Public Good: Emerging Voices from a National Movement. Jossey Bass. ISBM: 978-0-7879-7382-7

4. Links to Additional Resources

President’s Leadership Summit in 2010

Summit of Presidents and Chancellors in 2016

Minnesota Campus Compact College Access Bibliography

Federal Student Aid