Are we special?. Scary. Strategic planning. CEO’s. Lawyers. We’ve seen scarier. Assessment. Assessors. Even scarier. An economist. An economist dean. An economist dean thinking about…. Mission statements. Macalester.
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Macalester Macalester is committed to being a preeminent liberal arts college with an educational program known for its high standards for scholarship and its special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
Dartmouth Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.
Kalamazoo The mission of Kalamazoo College is to prepare its graduates to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world.
Carleton The mission of Carleton College is to provide an exceptional undergraduate liberal arts education. In pursuit of this mission, the College is devoted to academic excellence, distinguished by the creative interplay of teaching, learning, and scholarship, and dedicated to our diverse residential community and extensive international engagements.The College’s aspiration is to prepare students to lead lives of learning that are broadly rewarding, professionally satisfying, and of service to humanity. By discovering and sharing exemplary models of undergraduate education, the College seeks to be a leader among those colleges, universities, and professional organizations that share our dedication to this vision.Carleton strives to be a collaborative community that encourages curiosity and intellectual adventure of the highest quality. Faculty, staff, and students respect one another for the serious work and the playful humor we share, and we support each other in pursuing a healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit. Quiet reflection and lively engagement are valued as sources of self-understanding and renewal. Carleton honors thoughtful conversations about difficult questions as necessary for individual growth and community strength. The College works to embody the values of freedom of inquiry and expression and is vigilant in protecting these values within a culture of academic integrity, civil deliberation, and ethical action. Carleton aims to be welcoming and hospitable to its neighbors, guests, and the public, and a responsible steward of its resources.Carleton’s academic goals focus on developing the critical and creative talents of our students through broad and rigorous studies in the liberal arts disciplines. Mentored by dedicated faculty and staff, students become active members of a learning and living community that promotes the exploration of passionate interests and emerging avocations. Students learn higher order thinking skills: disciplinary inquiry, analysis of evidence, arts of communication and argumentation, and problem-solving strategies. In their chosen fields of study, students strengthen their capabilities for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and artistic production. Students acquire the knowledge necessary for the continuing study of the world’s peoples, arts, environments, literatures, sciences, and institutions.Carleton develops qualities of mind and character that prepare its graduates to become citizens and leaders, capable of finding inventive solutions to local, national, and global challenges.
Williams Williams seeks to provide the finest possible liberal arts education by nurturing in students the academic and civic virtues, and their related traits of character. Academic virtues include the capacities to explore widely and deeply, think critically, reason empirically, express clearly, and connect ideas creatively. Civic virtues include commitment to engage both the broad public realm and community life, and the skills to do so effectively. These virtues, in turn, have associated traits of character. For example, free inquiry requires open-mindedness, and commitment to community draws on concern for others. We are committed to our central endeavor of academic excellence in a community of learning that comprises students, faculty, and staff, and draws on the engagement of alumni and parents. We recruit students from among the most able in the country and abroad and select them for the academic and personal attributes they can contribute to the educational enterprise, inside and outside the classroom. Our faculty is a highly talented group of teachers, scholars, and artists committed deeply to the education of our students and to involving them in their efforts to expand human knowledge and understanding through original research, thought, and artistic expression. Dedicated staff enable this teaching and learning to take place at the highest possible level, as do the involvement and support of our extraordinarily loyal parents and alumni. No one can pretend to more than guess at what students now entering college will be called upon to comprehend in the decades ahead. No training in fixed techniques, no finite knowledge now at hand, no rigid formula can solve problems whose shape we cannot yet define. The most versatile, the most durable, in an ultimate sense, the most practical knowledge and intellectual resources that we can offer students are the openness, creativity, flexibility, and power of education in the liberal arts. Toward that end we extend a curriculum that offers wide opportunities for learning, ensures close attention of faculty to students but also encourages students to learn independently, and reflects the complexity and diversity of the world. We seek to do this in an atmosphere that nurtures the simple joy of learning as a lifelong habit and commitment. We place great emphasis on the learning that takes place in the creation of a functioning community: life in the residence halls, expression through the arts, debates on political issues, leadership in campus governance, exploration of personal identity, pursuit of spiritual and religious impulses, the challenge of athletics, and direct engagement with human needs, nearby and far away. To serve well our students and the world, Williams embraces core values such as welcoming and supporting in the College community people from all segments of our increasingly diverse society and ensuring that College operations are environmentally sustainable. From this holistic immersion students learn more than they will ever know. Such is the testimony of countless graduates — that their Williams experience has equipped them to live fuller, more effective lives. Ultimately, the College's greatest mark on the world consists of this: the contributions our alumni make in their professions, their communities, and their personal lives. Therefore, we ask all our students to understand that an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so. At the same time, being itself privileged by its history and circumstances, Williams understands its own responsibility to contribute by thought and example to the world of higher education.
Bowdoin It is the mission of the College to engage students of uncommon promise in an intense full-time education of their minds, exploration of their creative faculties and development of their social and leadership abilities, in a four-year course of study and residence that concludes with a baccalaureate degree in the liberal arts. Two guiding ideas suffuse Bowdoin's mission. The first, from the College of the 18th and 19th centuries, defines education in terms of a social vision. "Literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them. . . but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society" (President Joseph McKeen's inaugural address, 1802); "To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends: this is the offer of the College" (President William DeWitt Hyde, 1903). The second idea stresses the formation of a complete individual for a world in flux: there is an intrinsic value in a liberal arts education of breadth and depth, beyond the acquisition of specific knowledge, that will enable a thinking person, "to be at home in all lands and all ages" (President Hyde). At the root of this mission is selection. First, and regardless of their wealth, Bowdoin selects men and women of varied gifts, diverse social, geographic and racial backgrounds, and exceptional qualities of mind and character. Developed in association with one another, these gifts will enable them to become leaders in many fields of endeavor. Second, it recruits faculty members of high intellectual ability and scholarly accomplishment who have a passion for education both of undergraduates and of themselves, as life-long creators and pursuers of knowledge. The College pursues its mission in five domains: 1. Intellectual and Academic. The great mission of the College is to instill in students the love, the ways and the habit of learning. General education in liberal arts. The academic disciplines are specialized modes of inquiry through which human beings perceive and intellectually engage the world. Both their power and their limits have led the College to make a long-standing commitment to general education. Specialist faculty cause non-specialist students to become critically acquainted with the perspectives and methods of disciplines in three general divisions of learning: the natural sciences, the humanities and the arts and the social sciences. The College also sustains programs of interdisciplinary study, to reveal complicated realities not disclosed by any single discipline. It requires study outside the perspectives of Europe and the West; and it encourages study abroad to foster students' international awareness and linguistic mastery. The major field of study and independent work. Bowdoin places particular emphasis on the academic major, a concentrated engagement with the method and content of an academic discipline, in which advanced students take increasing intellectual responsibility for their own education. The College provides opportunities for honors projects and independent study, enabling students to engage in research and writing under the guidance of faculty mentors. The arrangement of teaching responsibilities of Bowdoin faculty presupposes professional duties not only of original scholarship and creative work but also of supervision of advanced student projects. Essential skills. The unevenness of American secondary education, the diversity of student backgrounds and the demands of college-level work and effective citizenship all require that the College enable students to master essential quantitative and writing skills and skills of oral communication, with the guidance of faculty, other professionals and qualified student peers. The College believes that technology is not education, but that it is changing both education and society; and that it must be embraced by pedagogy and research and made easily and dependably available to students, faculty and staff. 2. Social and Residential. Bowdoin students are selected from a large pool of applicants for their intellectual ability, seriousness of purpose and personal qualities. By design, they differ widely in their backgrounds and talents be they artistic, athletic, scientific or otherwise. To enable such students to learn from each other, and to make lasting friendships, the College is dedicated to creating a rewarding and congenial residence life, open to all students, which, with communal dining, is at the core of the mission of a residential college. Bowdoin's system is based on residence halls linked to restored, medium-sized, self-governing former fraternity houses. The College devotes the talent of staff and faculty, and of students themselves, to the creation of opportunities for student growth and leadership in these residential contexts, reinforced by many volunteer programs and activities, student-run campus organizations and opportunities to plan careers. 3. Athletic. Intercollegiate athletic competition against colleges with shared academic values, and other non-varsity sports, can foster self-control, poise, leadership, good health and good humor. Bowdoin encourages student participation in professionally coached varsity and club programs, as well as intramural sports, and in an outing club program that enables students to explore and test themselves in Maine's rivers and forests and on its seacoast and islands. 4. Esthetic and Environmental. The College is dedicated to constructing and preserving buildings and campus spaces of the highest quality, believing that their beauty and serenity shape campus intellectual and esthetic life and inform the sensibilities of students who as graduates will influence the quality of spaces and buildings in their towns, businesses and homes. A quadrangle of oaks and pines, ringed with historic architecture, and containing two museums with major collections of art and Arctic craft, deepens a Bowdoin student's sense of place, history and civilization. As a liberal arts college in Maine, Bowdoin assumes a particular responsibility to use nature as a resource for teaching and engaging students -- notably to help them obtain a broad sense of the natural environment, local and global, and the effects and the role of human beings regarding it. 5. Ethical. Implicit in and explicit to its mission is the College's commitment to creating a moral environment, free of fear and intimidation, and where differences can flourish. Faculty and students require honesty in academic work. Coaches instruct that fatigue and frustration are no excuse for personal fouls. Deans and proctors set standards of probity and decency and enforce them, with student participation, in College procedures. Yet, recognizing that life will present graduates with ambiguities that call for certainty less than for balance and judgment, Bowdoin makes few decisions for students, academically or socially -- perhaps fewer than do many other residential colleges. It does so believing that students grow morally and sharpen personal identity by exercising free individual choice among varied alternatives, curricular and social. But the College also causes these decisions to occur in a context of density and variety -- of ideas, artistic expression, and exposure to other cultures and other races -- so that personal identity will not become an illusion of centrality. Bowdoin College seeks to be a fair, encouraging employer of all those who serve the institution, providing opportunities for professional development, promotion and personal growth, and recognizing the value of each individual's contribution to its educational mission. From its history of more than 200 years and its inheritance of buildings and endowment that are the gifts of Bowdoin alumni there derives a corollary. If the College is to pursue its educational purposes in perpetuity, its mission is also a provident and prudential one. Succeeding generations of members of the College must carry the costs of their own enjoyment of its benefits; as alumni they remain a part of Bowdoin, assuming responsibility for renewing the endowments and buildings that will keep Bowdoin a vital, growing educational force for future generations of students and faculty. Finally, Bowdoin's intellectual mission is informed by the humbling and cautionary lesson of the 20th century: that intellect and cultivation, unless informed by a basic sense of decency, of tolerance and mercy, are ultimately destructive of both the person and society. The purpose of a Bowdoin education -- the mission of the College -- is therefore to assist a student to deepen and broaden intellectual capacities that are also attributes of maturity and wisdom: self-knowledge, intellectual honesty, clarity of thought, depth of knowledge, an independent capacity to learn, mental courage, self discipline, tolerance of and interest in differences of culture and belief, and a willingness to serve the common good and subordinate self to higher goals.
Could a computational analysis of the words contained in mission statements illuminate what makes Carleton special?
526,000 dating profiles Which terms appear with uniquely high frequency in the profiles of self-reported: • straight Asian women • gay white men • …
Charge to CS 322 v1.0 Which terms appear with uniquely high frequency in Carleton’s mission statement?
Yet another economist “Jeff should tell the faculty about it”
Mission statements from • Top 60 schools, US News & World Report National Liberal Arts Colleges • Top 60 schools, National Universities
Charge to CS 322 v2.0 In one week, do something interesting with mission statements. If you can figure out what makes Carleton’s mission statement special, so much the better.
Caveats • One week • Wide open-ended charge • Some focused on methodology, some just explored • Some experiments failed
Questions • Common words in MS’s? • Ranking MS’s by “uniqueness” • Is MS uniqueness correlated with US News rank? • Distinctive words in a MS? • Neato pictures? • MS vs. other genres?
Questions • Common words in MS’s? • Ranking MS’s by “uniqueness” • Is MS uniqueness correlated with US News rank? • Distinctive words in a MS? • Neato pictures? • MS vs. other genres?
Google’s “stop words” a,able,about,across,after,all,almost,also,am,among,an,and,any, are,as,at,be,because,been,but,by,can,cannot,could,dear,did,do, does,either,else,ever,every,for,from,get,got,had,has,have,he, her,hers,him,his,how,however,i,if,in,into,is,it,its,just,least,let,like, likely,may,me,might,most,must,my,neither,no,nor,not,of,off, often,on,only,or,other,our,own,rather,said,say,says,she,should, since,so,some,than,that,the,their,them,then,there,these,they, this,tis,to,too,twas,us,wants,was,we,were,what,when,where, which,while,who,whom,why,will,with,would,yet,you,your
“Mission statement stop words” Which words appear in at least X% of the mission statements? Adrian Trunzo ‘12
MS stop words 20% academic,arts,both,citizens,college,commitment,committed,community, creative,dedicated,develop,development,diverse,diversity,education, educational,environment,excellence,experience,faculty,global,graduate, highest,human,inquiry,intellectual,knowledge,leaders,leadership,learning, liberal,life,lives,members,mission,new,opportunities,personal,professional, programs,provide,provides,providing,public,research,residential,resources, responsibility,scholarship,sciences,seeks,serve,service,social,society,staff, student,students,study,teaching,through,undergraduate,understanding, university,values,well,women,work,world
MS stop words 40% academic,arts,college,community,diverse, education,excellence,faculty,intellectual, knowledge,learning,liberal,mission, research,service,society,students, teaching,through,university,world
MS stop words 60% community education learning students
MS stop words 80% students
Questions • Common words in MS’s? • Ranking MS’s by “uniqueness” • Is MS uniqueness correlated with US News rank? • Distinctive words in a MS? • Can we make neato pictures? • MS vs. other genres?
Perplexity approaches • Use one set of mission statements to build a language model M • Imagine that M is generating mission statements • Take your mission statement and M and ask “how surprised would I be if M generated this statement?” • Perplexity is an information theoretic measure of surprise. Bigger number, more surprise. • More surprise means your mission statement is more “unique” as defined by the model M. Eric Brenner ‘11, Denis Griffis ’12, Ben Tyler ‘11
Other approaches • Generic-ness of a MS = average log frequency of the words in the MS. Lots of commonly used words means it’s more generic. • Generic-ness of a MS = average frequency of the words in the MS. Ditto. Aaron McCarty ‘11, Michael Groeneman ‘12
Generic-ness = average freq • Least generic: Rensselaer, US Naval Academy, West Point, Stanford (1885 language), Wellesley • Most generic: Northwestern, St. Lawrence, Wheaton (MA), U Miami, Dartmouth • Carleton: 52nd least generic out of 107 Aaron McCarty ‘11