Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 17, 2012

Robert Abelman
Pages 83-108

The Verbiage of Vision: Mission and Identity in Theologically Conservative Catholic Colleges and Universities

Since Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Catholic colleges and universities have made a conscientious effort to better embed a declaration of religious identity and its defining values and guiding principles into their institutional mission and vision statements. So too has a new wave of Catholic colleges and universities whose leadership has accused Catholic higher education of compromising faith to conform to an increasingly secular world. A content analysis of the mission and vision statements from a nationwide sample of these institutions was performed and key linguistic components found to constitute a well conceived, viable and easily diffused institutional vision were isolated. Findings reveal significant stylistic differences across religious institution types in terms of vision, clarity, complexity, pragmatics, optimism, and their use of language to unify the campus community. How mission and vision statements can better serve as guiding, governing and promotional documents is discussed.