Killeen, Texas – A&M-Central Texas marked a major milestone in its young history in 2013, achieving the initial accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges which authorized it to offer undergraduate and graduate programs as one of the newest universities within the Texas A&M University System.
But as eventful as that accomplishment was, it was only the beginning of the journey. Now, barely four years later, the university is preparing for its second visit in April 2018 – this time for official reaccreditation – and it’s a mammoth task, requiring the collaborative efforts of virtually every employee.
Brigit McCafferty, Director of the University Library and Compliance Review Committee Chair, recognizes the enormity of the task, approaching it with the practical respect and diligence inherent to such a substantial project.
“We begin with the end in mind,” she observed. “It’s a lot of work to be fully prepared, but we’ve got great people here and everyone is taking on their fair share and more.”
Because a university’s effectiveness is evaluated against the extent to which it can demonstrate the faithful execution of its mission, ensuring the continuing relevance of its mission statement is crucial.
A&M-Central Texas President, Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, couldn’t agree more – albeit for slightly different reasons.
“Because the concept of an upper-level university is so unique – only three exist in the entire U.S. – our mission statement must reflect the elements that distinguish us among our peers so that everyone we are here to serve understands the potential benefit we represent to their higher education goals.”
Unlike traditional universities that recruit freshmen with little or no college experience via a competitive admission process, A&M-Central Texas is purposefully accessible in its admissions requirements, serving students who have completed a minimum of 30 college credits.
“Our model relies on partnerships with community colleges within our region,” noted Dr. Nigliazzo. “They do a wonderful job providing the core courses for the undergraduate degrees we offer, and the result is a more affordable path toward degree completion.”
So, how then does a university capture the unique nature of its fundamental purpose into anything as seemingly sterile as a mission statement?
That’s easy: A committee does it.
Dr. Peg Gray Vickery, A&M-Central Texas Provost, praised the thoughtful precision with which University Council approached their responsibilities, explaining, “The first drafts of the mission were developed as part of our strategic planning process.
“For two months, they reviewed samples, identifying those they admired, and incorporating the distinguishing elements that we believed spoke to our distinctive purpose.
“Then we refined what had been written, shared drafts with colleagues and direct reports and incorporated the feedback that was offered. We shared it with the members of the reaccreditation committee and reviewed it for its relevance to strategic plan developed by the Texas A&M University System which had the final authority to approve the revision.”
On April 27th, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in College Station approved the amended mission statement, as follows:
“Texas A&M University-Central Texas is a public, upper-level university offering baccalaureate and graduate degrees important to the region and the state. It is committed to high quality, rigorous, and innovative educational programs delivered in a variety of instructional modes to a diverse student population through exceptional teaching, service, and applied scholarship. With an emphasis on community engagement, the university employs emerging technology to enhance student learning and to nurture its partnerships with regional community colleges, the military presence in its region, and the community at large.”
The irony of the task at hand isn’t lost on the A&M-Central Texas academicians, administrators, staff, and students who participated in the review and revision process.
“Our College of Business Administration teaches the principles of strategic planning, and the mission statement for any entity is crucial,” said Paul Turcotte, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment. “We took our time, involved everyone, and produced something we can all be proud of.”
About Texas A&M University-Central Texas
Texas A&M University-Central Texas was established in 2009 as a member of The Texas A&M University System, one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. A&M-Central Texas is an upper-level institution, fully aligned with regional community colleges and offering quality bachelor’s and master’s degrees with an emphasis on access and affordability.