Does Simpson College accomplish its mission?

Does Simpson College accomplish its mission?

Little known to many, Simpson College has a mission statement. This mission statement, appearing below, supposedly illustrates the purpose of Simpson College, the methods of how to achieve this, as well as the values of the college. It is interesting how the mission statement diverges with reality in many cases as well as qualifies its purpose. Herein, some of these oddities are described.

The first qualifying statement that seems to jump out is in the phrase “excellence in private higher education.” The insertion of “private” weakens the sentence greatly. Instead of creating “excellence in higher education,” the mission statement implies that the standards for private education are different than those of public schools. Depending on one’s experience with and/or knowledge of private schools, this may diminish the educational value of Simpson in his mind.

The first bulleted point ascribes Simpson with having (or striving to obtain) “innovative teaching and learning processes”; however, one fails to see much of this taking place at Simpson. Like most colleges and universities, Simpson’s professors seem to rely on lecturing, homework (readings, papers, and problems), and of course, the infamous tests and quizzes.

Discrepancies between this structure and how 99.9 percent of all other colleges and universities operate fail to exist. Perhaps this bullet is one objective Simpson College should look into improving upon in the coming years by providing more “real-world” or creative approaches to discover the students’ learning potential.

The third bullet indicates Simpson’s goal of “graduating students.” This seems appropriate since students are paying an extensive amount of money each year to attend; however, not all students attend Simpson with the aim of graduating. Some students, usually nontraditional students, take classes merely to further their own knowledge.

Therefore, it is inappropriate to create divergences between the college’s mission and the students’ mission. True, graduation is an important part of going to college, but it is not the end-all of education. It simply proves that you have taken enough credits to attain a Bachelor’s degree, not that you have learned all that there is to learn. Simpson’s purpose, then, should be to “educate students who will continue to grow…”

Simpson College, admittedly, is associated with the United Methodist Church. The fourth bullet indicates that Simpson is committed to “those standards of…the United Methodist Church…”

This is not an accurate reflection of the school, however. The students of Simpson comprise a wealth of diverse religious background, as far as Christianity goes, and despite the UMC affiliation, the majority of students have been raised with a Roman Catholic background. It is not fair, then, to state that the college’s values are based upon a denomination that the majority does not even follow. Omitting that assertion would be beneficial to the true reflection of Simpson.

Simpson College’s mission statement is an undervalued piece of what the college stands for. In many cases, the college is accomplishing the set-forth tasks; however, there are also instances where the statement could be improved.

It goes to show that an institution can never settle for “comfortable.” It must always be striving to achieve new goals and those already outlined in such mission statements. There is always room for improvement in mission statements, even in outstanding ones.

Note: This column was originally an essay submitted as an assignment for John Bolen’s senior colloquium Leadership and Community. Students were asked to read Simpson College’s Mission Statement and analyze whether or not Simpson delivered the kind of education that it had set out to provide to its students. Like any Guest Perspective or Letter to the Editor that is submitted to The Simpsonian, the views of this column do not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper or its staff.