A 'single, outdated word:' State Board president addresses U of I flagship flap

Mission statements for the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University were tweaked this month in order to promote a climate that is "consistent and collegial in nature rather than comparative or competitive."

So says State Board of Education President Richard Westerberg in a guest opinion sent out this afternoon.

Westerberg further explains the board's controversial decision to strike the word "flagship" from the University of Idaho's mission:

"There was much thoughtful, and sometimes spirited, discussion about proposed updates. The proposed mission statement for the University of Idaho included the term 'flagship,' which was not used in previous mission statements and was not deemed appropriate by the board."

Here is Westerberg's guest opinion:
 
At a time when our state is beginning to recover from a long and difficult recession, our focus must be on how to work together to capitalize on Idaho’s strengths and position ourselves to benefit from a stronger economy. 
 
Higher education provides a path to success for Idaho citizens. No one, least of all our students, is served by divisiveness over which institution can claim to be the best. All of our colleges and universities should be focused on how they can provide the best education to students not whether they can stake claims to prominence or superiority.
 
Each of our state’s public higher education institutions has an important heritage and unique capabilities. Each could claim an undeniable designation of leadership in some area. The members of the State Board of Education have tremendous respect for all of Idaho’s public higher education institutions; however, their missions, first and foremost, should be to provide high-quality educational opportunities that prepare our citizens for lifelong success.

As part of the university accreditation process, from time to time the State Board must conduct a formal review and approval of institutional mission statements. The mission statement of any organization should center on the fundamental purpose the organization serves and the stakeholders who benefit. Institutional self-interest should not overshadow the intent of this statement.

The process of revising and updating the mission statements for Idaho’s public institutions of higher education began last fall in response to a change in accreditation requirements. In a unanimous decision at the February meeting, the board approved updated versions of the mission statements for all of the institutions.

There was much thoughtful, and sometimes spirited, discussion about proposed updates. The proposed mission statement for the University of Idaho included the term “flagship,” which was not used in previous mission statements and was not deemed appropriate by the board. The proposed mission statements for both Idaho State University and Boise State University were also revised and changes made in an effort to ensure all statements were consistent and collegial in nature rather than comparative or competitive.

It is more important now than ever that those involved at all levels of education work together in a spirit of collaboration to serve the needs of Idaho students. Fortunately, there are many examples of cooperation among our colleges and universities. 

The three universities have partnered with great success in the research and development work being done at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, where faculty and student researchers are laying the foundation for secure, sustainable energy options for the future.

The College of Southern Idaho has graciously provided administrative and systems support for the College of Western Idaho as they work to establish their own systems and processes to serve a burgeoning student body.
 
This week all eight of Idaho’s public higher education institutions partnered to hold the Idaho Economic Development Summit. This meeting brought together business, government, economic development organizations and higher education to discuss how to improve higher education’s contribution to the success of Idaho’s economy. 

These efforts that look to our future success and prosperity deserve the kind of attention and support which is, instead, being spent on a single, outdated word.

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Lipstick

Not much here to explain poking a finger in U of I's eye. Sounds a lot like lipstick on a pig.

I don't think so...

It sounds more to me like they stopped the U of I from poking a finger in everyone else's eye.

AGREE

The "flagship" designation was self imposed. For the U of I to act as though something has been stolen from them is petty and childish.

Well, they are Vandals

"Petty and childish" would be more appropriate in their mission statement than would the self-proclaimed "flagship".

Maybe

Their idiotic focus on getting a "word" back in their mission statement that was never approved to be there in the first place is one of the reasons they shouldn't have it in the first place!

What, they don't have any other things going on around campus that they might be concerned about? Wow, who sets the priorities? If this is how Nellis is leading this school, maybe there should be some consideration of someone walking the plank of that flagship!

Liberals ought to love this....

Competition is bad - we can't be party to embarrassing an organization by promoting competition. Someone may finish 2d or 3d - horrors! By the way, we aren't still keeping score at those university athletic events are we? Oh no....

Over the edge

That ship done sailed a long, long time ago.

The SBOE ought to consider talking with Kustra

He doesn't have a collaborative bone in his body. This statement clearly indicates the SBOE has no clue about higher education in Idaho.

Unfortunately for the Vandals

We are still keeping score. Not that athletics mean anything to the Vandals anymore....so I'm told by their alumni...They are the academic school.

It's simple, UI is not the

It's simple, UI is not the flagship university in Idaho. Each university has it's own mission, and to say one is somehow above all the others is regressive.

On the other hand, the statistics don't lie

UI has 70 locations across Idaho
80 percent of UI freshman stay for their sophomore year
UI students graduate at nearly twice the rate of any other public University in the state
74% of ALL research funding to Idaho universities is received by UI
In 2009 UI's expenditures on research were nearly 8 times those of bsu
National Merit scholars enrolling in Idaho universities overwhelmingly choose UI.
UI has been providing educational leadership in Idaho for over 120 years.

Sounds like a flagship university to me.

Hey Kevin

In light of your editorials about ethics, it might be a help to declare your families relationship with the UofI. It's funny that no other media outlet is even talking about this. Just the one whose editor has a direct relationship to the UofI.

To MacMan, if the UofI had actually been a leader instead of being petty and assisted the universities in Pocatello and Boise over the last 50 years instead of blocking and slowing down their progress you may well have earned that moniker. Unfortunately, all the UofI has attempted to lead is their efforts in self-preservation at the expense of the citizens of Idaho and its students. In doing so, they have hurt their own interest. You do realize that almost every significant data point you mention in regard to UI is lower today than it was 5 years ago. I saw the letter from the alumni association regurgitating your talking points. Pathetic.

70 locations. Ag extension offices. Give me a break. Parma anyone? Funny, Ag research and the extension service are at the very core of your mission and status as a Land Grant university. However, the UofI tried to weasel out of those while at the same time getting 8 times the cost of operating the Parma extension office in state money for maintenance and remodel of your athletic facility.