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2. Core requirements

Core Requirement:

2.4 The institution has a clearly defined, comprehensive, and published mission statement that is specific to the institution and appropriate for higher education. The mission addresses teaching and learning and, where applicable, research and public service. (Institutional Mission)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia is identified by the University System of Georgia as a State University, and the Board of Regents defines such institutions by a set of core characteristics [1].  These core characteristics emphasize teaching and learning, note commitments to public service and to scholarly and creative work, and establish an institutional role in State Universities for programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels:

* a commitment to excellence and responsiveness within a scope of influence defined by the needs of an area of the state, and by particularly outstanding programs or distinctive characteristics that have a magnet effect throughout the region or state;

* a commitment to a teaching/learning environment, both inside and outside the classroom, that sustains instructional excellence, serves a diverse and college-prepared student body, promotes high levels of student achievement, offers academic assistance, and provides developmental studies programs for a limited student cohort;

* a high quality general education program supporting a variety of disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and professional academic programming at the baccalaureate level, with selected master’s and educational specialist degrees, and selected associate degree programs based on area need and/or interinstitutional collaborations;

* a commitment to public service, continuing education, technical assistance, and economic development activities that address the needs, improve the quality of life, and raise the educational level within the university’s scope of influence;

* a commitment to scholarly and creative work to enhance instructional effectiveness and to encourage faculty scholarly pursuits, and a commitment to applied research in selected areas of institutional strength and area need [1].

The University System of Georgia is considering changing the classification of the University of West Georgia to a Regional University [2] . If this change is approved, the UWG areas of focus will change as well. This is discussed in UWG's response to 2.5.

The University of West Georgia Mission Statement [3] was approved by both the University System of Georgia and by SACS [4], [5], [6]. The Mission Statement is available on the University’s website, and it is published annually in the UWG Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs [7], [8]

The Mission Statement clearly situates the University, using the definition and core characteristics established by the Board of Regents [1], and distinguishes UWG with a unique role:

“The University of West Georgia seeks to achieve preeminence in providing educational excellence in a personal environment through an intellectually stimulating and supportive community for its students, faculty, and staff” [3]

Support for the task of “educational excellence in a personal environment” and for the University System of Georgia mandates for State Universities is reflected in the University of West Georgia’s statements of Purpose, Essential Activities, and Values. The Purpose establishes UWG as “a comprehensive, residential institution providing selectively focused undergraduate and graduate education primarily to the people of West Georgia,” which “is…committed to regional outreach…for personal and professional development,” and to “quality teaching, scholarly inquiry, creative endeavor, and service.” The critical characteristics of a comprehensive institution of higher education as seen in the mission and purpose statements are further explicated in eight Essential Activities and four institutional Values. Particularly distinctive are the activities and values associated with “doctoral level education" and “faculty-directed student research and professional activities,” the establishment of an Honors College and Advanced Academy, and the role of “learning communities” and a “personal environment," which serve to support students [3].

It should be noted as well that, in accordance with the SACS policy on “Distance and Correspondence Education” [9], the University of West Georgia purpose statement includes the following:

"The University is also committed to regional outreach through a collaborative network of external degree centers, course offerings at off campus sites and an extensive program of continuing education for personal and professional development. Opportunities for intellectual and personal development are provided through quality teaching, scholarly inquiry, creative endeavor, and service for the public good" [3].

 Note: course offerings at off campus sites include distance learning courses.

Notably, as the University of West Georgia completes development of its next Strategic Plan in late 2014, the statements of Mission, Purpose, Essential Activities, and Values may be adapted to conform with the new Strategic Plan.  However, the fundamental characteristics established by the Board of Regents and evidenced in the distinctive mission of the University of West Georgia will remain.  The narrative for Comprehensive Standard 3.1.1 (Mission) provides further description of the Institutional Mission. The alignment of the University’s curriculum with its Mission and Goals is discussed in the narrative for Federal Requirement 4.2 (Program Curriculum). 

Supporting Documentation: