“Just win, baby!”
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis’ three most famous words epitomized the Raider Way and set the tone for the organization for the decades to come. It’s amazing what a concise motto can do for the direction of an organization.
The Case Western Reserve University Department of Physical Education and Athletics was lacking in such a motto. After officially adopting a new mission statement to guide the department on Feb. 14, it also unveiled a new tagline—Compete, Win, Respect, Unite—to be used for marketing and programming. A video explaining the new mission and tagline was also released.
According to Director of Athletics Amy Backus, the start of the change came about from alumni who were not pleased that the old mission statement did not include anything about success athletically.
“One of the things that was glaringly missing from our mission statement was the idea of athletic success,” she said. “It was much more general, so his [the alumnus’s] particular request was that we take a look at the mission statement and how do we better reflect what we are trying to do on multiple levels from physical education, club sports, intramurals, all the way up to our varsity sport program.”
Backus formed a committee of administration, student-athletes, coaches and alumni to formulate a better mission statement. Committee members were Backus, CWRU alumnus and visiting committee chair Jim Treleaven, CWRU Director of Media Relations and Communications Bill Lubinger, Assistant Athletic Director for Development Gary Pillar, Assistant Athletic Director and Sports Information Director Jon Schwartz, Men’s Tennis Head Coach Todd Wojtkowski, fourth-year swimmer Andrew Henning and third-year Ultimate Frisbee club team member Alicia Chang.
The committee was intended to be composed of people coming from different backgrounds.
“We wanted to get a lot of different perspectives…we had quite a few constituents in that group with a lot of different goals in mind,” said Backus.
However, lacking from the committee was any student or administration member representing intramural sports.
The statement was also reworked because NCAA regulations stipulate that every university’s athletics mission statement must follow eight guidelines. Those are participant-centered, sportsmanship and ethical conduct, broad-based athletics programs, integrated experience, educational mission of institution, equitable opportunities for males and females, ethnic and gender diversity and athletics success. During the writing process, the committee was always cognizant of those eight ideas.
“When [we] got our committee to review the statement we took a look at each one of these eight components and tried to find a way to address each one of those in the mission statement,” said Backus.
By following the eight guidelines in the statement, the committee also makes regular institutional reviews much easier.
The process was a long one. According to Schwartz, the committee was formed last April and met regularly for discussion. He described the process as “deliberate and well thought-out,” and said the committee didn’t want to debut the new statement until they “did it in such a way that it was well thought out” as well. Though the process was long, Chang felt the meetings and email correspondence were “very collaborative.” Backus agreed, calling the committee “a very collegial group.
The old and new statements are different, but not as much as one would think. However, the differences are not subtle. In the new statement, the ninth word is “excellence” while in the old statement doesn’t mention it until the second paragraph.
“From a varsity athlete perspective … I wanted to see that we were going to compete [and] try to win,” said Henning.
Another major difference is the inclusion of diversity in the first sentence. Henning mentioned that including diversity should be an important part of the mission statement that was “really lacking” in the last one. He added, “[It’s] a lot bigger thing now, I wanted to make sure we added that.”
Chang also wanted to see all students represented in the mission statement, not just those who compete at the varsity level.
“I felt that it was important to make note of how our department plays a role in each CWRU student’s education,”she said.
Chang was satisfied that the issue is addressed in the second paragraph.
The tagline was created to summarize the mission statement in a concise way. Chang described it as “natural summary of the ideas we felt were important to emphasize about our school.” Schwartz added, “It encompassed our goals, which are not only to be competitive and to win but also to be sportsmanlike when we compete.”
The first letters in the words of the tagline form the acronym CWRU. The university encourages the CWRU brand by using #BlueCWRU for athletics-related social media posts. The department also discourages other sources from using “Case” or “Case Western” on scoreboards, websites or broadcasts. The only acceptable uses are CWRU, Case Western Reserve and Case Western Reserve University.
Even though CWRU athletics have always been focused on winning, the department’s mission statement never reflected it. Now, after a few tweaks, it does and all Spartans, no matter the level of competition, can just win.
Current Mission Statement: The Department of Physical Education and Athletics seeks excellence for the diverse community of students, faculty and staff of Case Western Reserve University by providing the professional and community resources and support necessary to develop and maximize opportunities for engagement, learning and respectful competition at the highest level.
The department offers a broad range of athletics activities, including varsity teams, club sports, intramurals and physical education courses, which support the educational mission of this prestigious research university to improve and enrich lives through active, creative and continuous learning.
Old Mission Statement: The mission of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics is to contribute to the educational development of the University student and enhance the quality of the leisure life of the students, faculty and staff.
The Department of Physical Education and Athletics seeks to support the University in its pursuit of excellence by providing each student with an opportunity to develop physical fitness and lifetime sports skills; compete in athletics; participate in physical activity; demonstrate leadership and be responsible and responsive citizens.