Dean of the Faculty

Frequently Asked Questions About the Adoption of the Mission Statement


How will the mission statement be used?
The statement will appear in the College Catalog, on the Web site, and in admissions material and other official documents.

Why not just use “Terras Irradient”?
The College’s motto is not detailed enough to provide the basis of an institution-wide self-assessment. That the founders of a small school in a small town envisioned a global mission is the start of Amherst’s distinctive identity, but other important elements need to be declared, including the diversity of our community, the high standards of teaching and scholarship, the emphasis on student responsibility.

Why not go into more detail?
Newly adopted mission statements generally range from a hundred words to a thousand words. In the view of the Ad Hoc Faculty Advisory Group, which has found support in the groups consulted, the longer a statement goes on, the less convincing it may be—to the point that it sounds like a committee report. A characterization of Amherst’s mission needs to stick to first principles, assuming that the details of implementation will evolve over time.

Are we being too modest?
Claims to superiority and uniqueness tend to ring hollow in mission statements. The most overused and least meaningful term may be “excellence.” It seems most prudent to proclaim our intentions and let the results speak for themselves.

Who ratifies the statement?
The ultimate responsibility rests with the Board of Trustees, who have encouraged the College to conduct a broad consultative process. A comprehensive report on this process, noting dissents and unresolved issues, will included in the reaccreditation self-study and will record the intentions of the adopters for future interpretation and revision of the statement. The self-study will available on this Web site in September of 2007.