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The Mission Statement Development Process

Circle with three segments representing the components of the mission statement: Vision: Where do we want to go (in the future)?, Mission: What are we doing (today) to contribute to achieving our vision?
Values: Where do we want to direct our attention to in our everyday actions? Internal effect: identity, motivation, orientation, meaning-making, identification; external effect: credibility, authenticity, consistent positive image, competence.
Graphic: Rina Roki-Heck
The graphic illustrates the components of the Mission Statement and its internal and external effects.

Why a mission statement is important for the University of Marburg

As an institution, the University of Marburg is surrounded by changes and new challenges – both in the scientific context and in the social environment in which it operates.

From modern building and IT infrastructure to successful funding applications, the university must meet a range of requirements in order to create a good working environment for students and academics . At the same time, the university is confronted with current external social issues and conflicts – from climate change to Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine.

To be able to consistently act and react to such changes and challenges, it is important to know what the University of Marburg stands for and what its own self-perception is. A mission statement clarifies this both internally and externally.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement describes the mindset and self-definition of an organization and thus significantly determines the direction in which the organization is moving.

Internally, a mission statement serves as orientation, as motivation, to build identity, and to strengthen a common identification. Externally, it creates a consistent and positive image and strengthens authenticity.

Our Mission Statement is composed of three core components:

  • Vision: Where do we want to go (in the future)?
  • Mission: What are we doing (today) to contribute to achieving our vision?
  • Values: Where do we want to direct our attention to in our everyday actions?

The development of the University of Marburg’s Mission Statement

In addition to the aforementioned changes and challenges, the university’s Executive Board also saw the need to develop a common mission statement based on internal input and observations.

To begin the process, the Office of University Communications was commissioned to write an initial draft of the Mission Statement. As a first step, the department used its findings and research from the areas of internal and external communication to define a roadmap and general parameters for a mission statement. In the second step, a first rough draft of the Mission Statement was formulated based on this.

In the meantime, the Executive Board has held discussions with the individual departments in order to set Target Agreements that aim at putting into effect the goals set by the State of Hesse within the university. These have been reviewed roughly, but also according to aspects of the new Mission Statement that is being developed.

About the Target Agreements

Between the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (HMWK) and Philipps-Universität, individually tailored Target Agreements are made for the period of five years. They are additionally shaped by the Hessian Higher Education Pact, which is an agreement between all Hessian universities and the State of Hesse, as well as the Hessian Higher Education Act (HessHG).

Four boxes showing, from top right to bottom left, the target levels from the Higher Education Act to the Higher Education Pact and the target agreements to the UMR. Click opens enlarged view.
Grafik: Rina Roki-Heck
The various levels of external goals are shown schematically in the diagram.

In terms of content, the University of Marburg’s Target Agreements for the years 2021-2025 define aims for the areas of teaching, research, knowledge transfer, internationalization, diversity, equality, employee development, as well as digitization and sustainability. The Executive Board translates the Target Agreements into aims for the individual departments and research centers of the University of Marburg. These goals are then discussed with the respective institutions in Target Agreement meetings and implementation strategy is agreed upon. Follow-up discussions are held several times over the five-year period.

The Mission Statement development process affects everyone

The Executive Board has used various channels to gather the opinions and views of members of the university community on the profile and strategic direction of the University of Marburg.

“An institution that is well-established and very widely known, but unfortunately not constructed in a way representative of the population”
Quote from the Corporate Design survey

Already during the Corporate Design Project, all university members were called upon to share their opinion on the University of Marburg and its image in a survey. This survey provided an important first impression of the current image of the university from the point of view of its members, which is very relevant for the development of the new Mission Statement.

Other important opinions were gathered in the Target Agreement meetings with the respective departments and schools, as well as in discussions of the Executive Board with the individual faculty boards. The exchanges provided an impression of the different expectations and views on the strategic orientation of the university.

“I did not know what a good and excellent research was being done here until I came here. So we need to spread more information about our nice University abroad.” (Original quote in English)
Quote from the internal communications survey

During the concept development for internal communication, a survey on internal communication and the perception of the University of Marburg was conducted. In the survey university members provided further relevant ideas and positions for the development of the Mission Statement.

Based on the collected suggestions, opinions, and views, the Executive Board, in cooperation with the Office of University Communications and the Excellence Strategy Working Group, revised and further developed the first draft of the Mission Statement proposal.

At the Advisory Committee meeting in December 2022, the Executive Board’s proposed Mission Statement was presented with a request for opinions and feedback. Suggestions from the subsequent discussion were incorporated into the further development of this Mission Statement proposal.

More information about the Advisory Committee meetings

Current status of the Mission Statement

The current version of the Mission Statement is the result of previous research, discussions, and surveys within the University of Marburg. The university uses the Mission Statement for the Excellence Strategy and the Corporate Design Project, and in internal communication and student marketing. The Executive Board is guided by this Mission Statement proposal in university presentations and discussions.

The next steps

The development of the Mission Statement is a process. The current version is a first step in a common direction. Therefore, the opinions and voices of the university members on the Mission Statement are important to the university leadership . Accordingly, they will be collected in order to gradually complete the Mission Statement.