Drafting A New University Identity Statement

March 1, 2016

By Melissa Rohman

Ninety-five years ago, Rosary College’s first graduating class consisted of 17 women.

This past year, the graduating class consisted of 422 men and women from different ethnic, financial and religious backgrounds. Time changes everything, including Rosary College, which became Dominican University in 1997.

A new Dominican identity statement is being drafted; however, it will remain rooted in the university’s mission of preparing its students to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.

Dominican’s Identity Statement Working Group, a subcommittee of the University Planning Committee, is currently is the process of revising drafts for a new university identity statement. This new identity statement will be released in 2017 and be the guiding statement for the university’s aspirations and goals for the next five years until 2022, the start of the newest strategic planning cycle. Every five years, a new identity statement is written in order to best reflect the current state of the university and begin a new university strategic planning cycle.

The years 2017 and 2022 are also substantial milestones for Dominican. The year 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of Rosary College taking the name Dominican University. The academic year of 2022-2023 will mark the 100th anniversary of Rosary College’s first graduating class.  

Last fall, President Donna Carroll charged the Identity Statement Working Group with the task of writing the new identity statement from scratch. Dominican will then make specific plans based on the goals of the new identity statement.

Since 2010, the university’s strategic planning cycle has been “Pathways to Distinction”. A strategic planning cycle is a specific outline that states priorities, goals and visions for growth and change and improvement plans for the university to accomplish over a specific period of time. Every five years, a new university strategic planning cycle is made. The university’s identity statement follows the same procedure.

“It’s an important project,” said Claire Noonan, vice president of mission and ministry. “I think it’s something that certainly the working group would like to see the campus really own and feel happy with and feel like this does describe who we are and who we want to be.”

Noonan said that the new identity statement will have an explicit mention of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. The idea of Dominican as a place of educational integration across all fields of study will also be included, as well as the explicit recognition of Dominican as a diverse and interfaith community. And, of course, it will include recognition of what the terms “Catholic” and “Dominican” mean for the campus.

“It is supposed to capture who you are in the moment,” Noonan said. “This new identity statement will show that things have changed in the past six years.”

Like many universities, Dominican has an explicit vision, mission and identity statement.

The university’s vision statement focuses on the concrete goals and hopes for the institution. Dominican’s current vision statement displays the number of students currently enrolled and expresses the university’s aspirations.

A mission statement is an overarching statement about the purpose of the institution; it’s a long-standing statement that guides the university from decade to decade. Every 20 years, the university planning committee writes a new vision and mission statement.  

An identity statement is an internal document that speaks to who the university is, in the most present moment, and what the university will strive to be within a time frame of five years.

Currently, the Identity Statement Working Group is collecting feedback received from students, faculty and staff and continuing to revise the drafted statement.

“We’ve been seeking feedback from students in seminars at each level, in graduate school courses and at SGA (Student Government Association) meetings,” said Rosary College Dean Jeff Carlson. “We have also sought out feedback from faculty in meetings of the various schools, from the Undergraduate Academic Council, the university Academic Council and from staff at Staff Council meetings.”

The Identity Statement Working Group’s next meeting is March 10. At that meeting, the identity statement draft will be ready for approval by the University Planning Committee.

SGA also examined the draft of statement at its Feb. 8 meeting.

“The university planning committee has worked and continued to work very hard on the identity statement,” said Will Schuneman, SGA president. “We feel as if the new identity statement draft embodies what we, the students believe, while retaining the embodiment of the mission of the university. The feelings and comments of SGA reflect that of the student body.”