Standard 1. Mission and Purpose - Description
The current Mission Statement is the College's fourth expression of its mission and objectives. Although the Congregation of Holy Cross established The Seminary of our Lady of Holy Cross on the Frederick Lothrop Ames estate in Easton, Massachusetts in 1935 with a charter for a two-year collegiate curriculum for seminarians — and in 1948 amended that charter to conduct and maintain a four-year college called Stonehill College — no formal mission statement was adopted until 1979.
Clearly, even without such a formal statement, the College understood its purpose to be rooted in the educational mission of the Catholic Church and in the particular charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross. What Blessed Basil Moreau imagined in his native France in the 1830s flowered across the globe in Holy Cross schools, colleges and universities. As the second youngest of eight Holy Cross-sponsored colleges in the United States, Stonehill was grounded in its originating mission as the younger sibling of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, St. Edward's University, University of Portland, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, and Kings College.
The College community undertook its most recent revision of the Mission Statement in 2004, beginning with a Trustee retreat dedicated to the topic of mission and identity. Between 2004 and 2006, the campus community worked to create a succinct and memorable declaration of the traditions, commitments, and goals of this institution. In 2006, the Board of Trustees formally approved the current Mission Statement of just three sentences. The previous statement, adopted in 1999, was elegant and capacious, but it was simply too long. In order to show the great value Stonehill placed on the work of the college community to craft that statement, much of the language of the previous mission statement remains in the Statement of Philosophy that follows the Mission Statement on the web and in several publications. This Statement of Philosophy elaborates the guiding principles for our shared enterprise.
The Mission Statement clearly identifies the College's distinctive character, contribution to society, tradition, and future vision. Stonehill's ongoing Catholic character is explicit, as is the commitment to a broad-based curriculum that "fosters critical thinking, free inquiry, and the interchange of ideas." Stonehill serves society by producing graduates committed to "the creation of a more just and compassionate world" -- to the difficult and challenging task of discerning and implementing actions that promote the common good.
This expression is widely recognized and accepted by the Stonehill community. Major publications of the college all feature the mission statement in a prominent place. Moreover, aspects of the statement permeate the College lexicon: in major addresses at Commencement and Convocation, students, faculty and administrators regularly use key phrases to affirm their lived experience of Stonehill. Admissions presentations and panels consistently echo commitment to the college's Catholic identity, to quality academic programs, and to developing graduates who will "think, act and lead toward the creation of a more just and compassionate world."
Recent strategic planning efforts also support this claim: we asked academic departments to develop mission statements and to integrate these with the College's mission. Key strategic decisions about support for academic programs in the sciences and in business administration emanated from the sense that these programs were priorities in advancing the mission. The college's ongoing support of a Mission Division, including a Vice President for Mission, highlights its commitment to foster awareness of mission and to embed the mission in every aspect of College life.
Stonehill's mission also serves as a basis for ongoing evaluation of new initiatives and programming. Academic program review is designed to assist departments in considering how to advance the College's mission through the choices they make in program and personnel. New interdisciplinary programs are evaluated for mission consistency. Much co-curricular programming also grows directly out of the mission statement. The rededication of the Martin Institute for Law and Society -- one of the largest sources of academic support programming on campus -- was grounded in a commitment to public policy and social justice. Outreach to the broader nonprofit community through the Center for Nonprofit Management allows the College's mission to be extended and offers students, faculty and staff opportunities to develop competencies and provide service. The faculty embraces initiatives in community-based learning that formally link service in the community with the goals of particular courses. We plan to grow these programs and have attracted grant funding from the Davis Educational Foundation to create an Office of Community-Based Learning in our Center for Teaching and Learning.
New Student Orientation has a key component dedicated to involving students with service. Indeed, the largest student groups on campus are service-oriented, such as Into the Streets, and HOPE (alternative Spring Break). Faculty recruits discuss the College's mission and the contribution they can make to it in the interview process. And all employees attend "The Spirit of Stonehill," our new employee orientation program, which emerged out of reflection on the Mission Statement. This program is regularly evaluated for its effectiveness.
At the inauguration of the current strategic planning process, "Above and Beyond: The Plan for Stonehill College, 2011-2015," President Cregan clearly articulated the central role that the college's mission would play in the formulation of goals and objectives. In his "Vision Statement," he stated that enhancing the College's Catholic identity was his top objective. The inclusion of multiple mission-based initiatives in "Above and Beyond" signals the impact of the Mission Statement on strategic planning. These initiatives include, but are not limited to: plans for academic excellence and distinctiveness in all programs of study; enhanced student engagement with the Catholic theological tradition; focus groups to discern the spiritual needs of non-Catholic students; increased efforts to articulate a clear and succinct understanding of the Catholic nature of Stonehill and its Holy Cross tradition, and deepening the quality of the reflective elements of volunteer service experiences.