The public service mission of urban and metropolitan state universities : an analysis of mission, policy, and practice

Rowley, Larry L., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kellams, Samuel E., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wagoner, Jennings L., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Harris, William M., University of Virginia

Public service.has often been considered the least important or recognized of the three primary missions of higher education (i.e., research, teaching, and public service). Moreover, a major criticism of higher education institutions has been that their commitment to addressing external societal concerns and problems has been rhetorical. Many universities profess a commitment to providing services to their communities and constituents. Prominent among these are universities commonly referred to as urban universities. However, some universities in urban areas are more dedicated to public service than others and the implications and definition of the term "urban university" are ยท very complex. Although all urban universities are committed to public service, not all of deem urban conditions their main public service concern. As a result, universities in urban areas vary in terms of their institutional policy, orientation, and implementation of public service.

This study was a descriptive analysis of the three central components of-public service in urban and metropolitan universities: mission, policy, and practice. The data for this study came from responses to the Urban Public Service Activities Survey (UPSAS). . The survey respondents were ninety-five institutions from the Joint Urban and Metropolitan Commission of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The study answered three research questions: 1) What is the public service policy and orientation of the respondent institutions? 2) How is the public service mission implemented at the respondent institutions? And 3) Is there a relationship between public service policy and orientation and the actual public service activities of the respondent institutions? It was hypothesized that the more developed the "public service policy and orientation" of the institutions the higher their number of public service activities would be. To test this hypothesis, the Public Service Policy and Orientation Index (PSP&O) and the Actual Public Service Activities Index (APSA) were created. Correlation of the indices revealed a moderate positive relationship. However, a number of other factors not measured by the PSP&O were probably responsible for this relationship. Overall the study provided a much-needed empirical analysis of the relationship between stated public service missions and actual activities in urban and metropolitan state universities.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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