Mission Statements, Outcomes, and the New Liberal Arts
William G. Christ Robert O. Blanchard Trinity University
Outcomes assessment is discussed within the context of a program assessment that takes into account both off- and on-campus realities. Challenges facing higher education suggest a New Liberal Arts for the general student that integrates traditional disciplines with professional communication perspectives.
Outcomes that stress a liberal education are developed at the program, course, and intracourse level. Assessing a program's strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and developing mission statements, linked to outcomes, is seen as useful for establishing priorities, philosophies, and pedagogical strategies for resource allocation.
Economic pressures, increasing competition for students, and the spread of assessment requirements and expectations, including those at the national (National Education Goals -- see chap. 1; Appendix A), regional (see chap. 3), state, and university levels, continue to pressure institutions of higher learning to establish some kind of process to justify their costs (see Eshelman, 1991; Footlick, Wingert, & Leonard, 1990; Sykes, 1988; Wycliff, 1990). We believe communication educators (this includes those in journalism, mass communication, speech communication, and similar fields) are more likely to be required to justify their existence not only to outside constituencies, but primarily within their own universities and colleges. If communication education programs are seen as fragmented, peripheral, or even nonessential to the overall university mission by on-campus committees, then they are more susceptible to being downsized or eliminated.