Component A: The Mission is clear and articulates publicly the organization's commitments.

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In presenting the new mission and vision to the SBHE in March 2003, Dr. Chaffee indicated that these statements make "defining commitments to applying technologies for learning and growth, service, innovation, attracting and retaining talented people, and growing the economy and society. These commitments join the University's long-standing mission in preparing people for life, teaching and learning, and providing quality learning opportunities" ("Vital Links," March 20, 2003, page 1).

The university vision statement indicates the broad educational philosophy and intent to pursue excellence in education and the role of the institution as an economic engine for the state:

Valley City State University is nationally acclaimed for attracting and retaining talented individuals who advance quality learning opportunities and economic growth through technology and innovation.

The mission statement emphasizes the Board's belief in a brighter future for students prepared to interact in an increasingly diverse and complex society:

Valley City State University prepares people for life through visionary leadership and exemplary practices in teaching, learning, and service.

The new mission and vision emphasize key traditional strengths and highlight new priorities for Valley City State University. The traditional strengths appear in the words "prepares people for life," "teaching, learning, and service," and "quality learning opportunities." Connections to the SBHE mandate for VCSU from 1990 may be seen in "technology and innovation," and "leadership and exemplary practices." New priorities, resulting from the dissolution of the shared administration and VCSU's plan to differentiate itself are expressed in "service", "attracting and retaining talented individuals", and "economic growth."

In adopting this mission, VCSU reaffirmed its commitment to placing teaching and learning at the center of its focus, and to exemplary practice, primarily through innovation and technology. In addition, it extended itself to serve the regional population and economic growth. The connection to the NDUS mission and vision, with its emphasis on service, quality education, and economic and social growth, is clear. Likewise, the University Purposes reiterate the areas of academic focus (education, business, and the liberal arts and sciences), identify the key assessment framework used by the university (competency in the eight Abilities), and underscore the importance of diversity.

The VCSU mission, vision, and purposes are shared through many channels. Faculty and staff receive copies of Baselines, a publication which includes organizational documents to explain the University's purposes, values, and organizational structure. Students, including prospective students, media, and community affiliates have access to the mission documents on the VCSU website; the mission, vision, University purposes, and core values are also published in the current catalog (page 2). In addition, every press release from VCSU ends with a statement of the VCSU mission and vision. The Employee Directory, the VCSU Policy Manual, the Alumni Bulletin, Teacher Education and Student Teaching handbooks, the VCSU Student Handbook, and various departmental program documents also include the mission statement.

Evaluation of Core Component 1a

VCSU's mission documents were reviewed and updated in 2002-2003, when the institution's shared presidency with Mayville State University was dissolved. The University's mission, vision, and purposes are posted on the website, the University Catalog, and a variety of other documents used by students and employees.

Strengths: The mission and vision articulate ideas central to the thinking of the University, with a focus on teaching and learning. The mission and vision are closely aligned with those of the North Dakota University System.

New Initiatives: The new strategic plan, VCSU 2015 strategic plan, VCSU 2015, was implemented in Fall 2010. Its goals and successful early implementation of several significant initiatives (the Learning Center, The Great Plains STEM Education Center, The Prairie Waters Education and Research Center, several new articulations, enrollment growth, and the new science building) have helped energize the campus to look forward, think creatively, and build on success.

Challenges: The successful implementation of the new, five-year strategic plan (described in chapter 5), and the increased efforts by faculty and staff to develop department or program level strategic plans that work in tandem with the campus-wide plan (also described in chapter 5) will provide momentum for reviewing the campus mission and vision statements, which has not undergone campus review since 2003. This review will allow for reflection, revisioning, and reaffirmation by all constituencies of the University's values and direction.