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Archive for April, 2013

visionI recently read the 2012-2013 President’s Report for Clarkson University. In the report I found something very interesting – a “Vision of a Clarkson Education”. Unlike most university mission statements, the focus was on the educational experience offered at the university. I am impressed. The vision talks about the “what the education is designed to enable the students to do” and talks about a the characteristics of their “personal and friendly learning environment”. Bravo!    Below are some of the highlights of Clarkson’s vision statement:

  • The Clarkson University educational experience is designed to provide talented and ambitious students with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve positions of leadership within their chosen profession.
  • A Clarkson education is designed to enable students to solve real-world, open-ended problems with creativity and risk taking to obtain solutions that are practical and sustainable.
  • A Clarkson education is designed to develop and refine exceptional communication skills with an awareness of potential cultural differences and to lead effectively and work productively within disciplinary and multidisciplinary teams composed of members with diverse interests and backgrounds.
  • A Clarkson student’s education is greatly enhanced by a personal and friendly learning environment.
  • A Clarkson student’s education draws undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff together into a cohesive and stimulating learning community, wherein an atmosphere of scholarship and spirit of research is cultivated.
  • Together, these provide a unique educational experience that is directed toward developing the whole person.

I am often struck by the importance of the words that we speak.   Clarkson is speaking volumes.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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dennis greenDennis Green, former NFL head football coach for the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals is often remembered for a famous rant after a tough loss to the Chicago Bears:

The Bears are what we thought they were. They’re what we thought they were. We played them in preseason — who the hell takes a third game of the preseason like it’s bullshit? Bullshit! We played them in the third game — everybody played three quarters — the Bears are who we thought they were! That’s why we took the damn field. Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let ’em off the hook!

Is our college what we say it is?   Do we really believe the things we say about ourselves?   After taking a look at our college’s mission and values statements, our college’s strategic plan, and some of the “branding” found in our promotional materials and web site, here are some of our defining characteristics:

  • innovation/innovative
  • able to work in global economy
  • integrated curriculum
  • high job placement
  • academic rigor
  • effectiveness in groups
  • strong internships
  • prepare citizens
  • develop leaders

Are we who we say we are?   In my opinion, the words we use to describe ourselves need to be fully vetted by the faculty and external stakeholders.   Who are we?   Who do we aspire to be?  The words we use to describe ourselves are very important.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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