Are Higher Ed Mission Statements Mere Window Dressing in New Mexico?

(Albuquerque) Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently made headlines around the country when he argued that institutes of higher education in his state of Florida should prioritize funding for the study of science and technology in the his state’s institutes of higher education.

Said Scott, “If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take money to create jobs…so I want the money to go to a degree where people can get jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”

One may agree or disagree with Scott’s statement, but prioritization of limited resources is essential. In order to better understand how those resources should be allocated in higher education in New Mexico, the Rio Grande Foundation undertook an effort to survey members of the boards of regents of the state’s six public senior universities on their views of their schools’ mission statements. Unfortunately, poor returns – only 26.7% of the regents responded – seem to indicate that many of the people responsible for leading these institutes do not take their mission statements seriously.

Said Pat Leonard an adjunct fellow with the Foundation and the lead author of the new Rio Grande Foundation report “Are Mission Statements Mere Window Dressing in New Mexico?,” “The regents are political appointees charged with the guidance of New Mexico’s public universities. As such, we expected far more enthusiastic participation and willingness to share views on their institutes’ mission statements. Unfortunately, this was not the case.”

Rio Grande Foundation president and co-author of the report noted that, “Without a clearly-stated mission, policymakers are left to judge for themselves whether New Mexico’s higher education institutions are achieving their goals or not. In times of constrained budgets, it is more important than ever to have a clear understanding of what these schools are attempting to achieve.”

The full report is available online here.

A sample survey containing the questions that were sent to each regent can be found here.