University of Minnesota Duluth
myUMD | Search | People | Departments | Events | News

 Strategic Planning

Core Values


Please make suggestions for core UMD campus values.


Who can disagree with any of these? No one, but the reason is that they are so vague that they really say nothing. They apply to any community of people, not just a university.

I would hope that the core values would reflect the core values of a university, as distinct from, say, a Little League team. What does a university stand for?

A university preserves and disseminates the best knowledge and wisdom of civilization and - through research, creative, and scholarly efforts - develops, winnows, and sifts new knowledge which it bequeaths to future generations.

Those are the core values of a university that distinguish it from other endeavors.

Given that, what are the core values of this particular University?

John Pastor

Here's an alternative set of core values that perhaps relates more specifically to the purpose of a university: curiosity, rational thought, respect for what we don't know or understand, learning, scholarship, depth, breadth.

This list was discussed at our table at the Strategic Planning Forum, Feb 7.

John Pastor

I would like to see "Fiscal Responsibility" added to the list in some way.

One thing that may be helpful to the process of defining core values and writing a mission statement would be to start with defining 2-4 core principles. The mission and vision statements would derive from these core principles and associated values.

Since principles are generally understood and accepted truths or concepts, they can provide a foundation. Values flow from the principles and are contextual, concrete ways in which worth or value can be brought to the enterprise as an application of the principles (through ideas, plans and actions). But because they are contextual, unless values can be traced back to universally held principles, there is the problem of subjectivity, lack of clear definition, or difficulty in applying them broadly. Plans and actions can thus be evaluated by judging how well they flow back to the underlying principles.

I have a suggestion regarding the core values; specifically the value statement pertaining to student success.

The current statement
Student success - We create an environment that fosters student learning and success.

My suggestion
Student success - We adhere to to Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. These principles encompass student-faculty contact, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on task, high expectations, and diverse talents and ways of learning.

I am recommending this latter statement because it is more descriptive of what the "environment" that fosters student learning and success might look like in terms of benchmarks for faculty and students and how these benchmarks might be assessed. The principles I have suggested come from the "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" first published in 1987 by AAHE. There are also existing inventories that assess student and faculty practice related to the principles.

I fully endorse the core values as stated.

Some commentators above have argued persuasively that the current list/statements of core values is too vague. I would not agree. I prefer that they stay a little open-ended, available for some interpretation and application. Having said this, I do think that two of the values would benefit from revision.
1: Inclusion. The language states: We respect and embrace the diversity of individuals, perspectives, and ideas and strive for social justice. I like "embrace" and I like the inclusion of individuals, perspectives and ideas. However, "strive" is a difficult word choice. It means to try or attempt or even to struggle. In my mind the value winds up saying "we do" and then ends with "sometimes we succeed." I would prefer much stronger language here.
2. Excellence. The statement reads: we achieve excellence through creativity, continuous improvement, and innovation. "Continuous improvement" and "innovation" are pretty much the same thing so stating them both seems unnecessarily repetitious.

Thanks to Jerry for saying what I was just thinking. I concur, Excellence seems redundant and I argue that Excellence should be present in each of our core values (and hopefully is presumed). Otherwise, I endorse where we are now.

Leave a comment