The mission of Washington University in St. Louis is to act in service of truth through the formation of leaders, the discovery of knowledge, and the treatment of patients for the betterment of our region, our nation, and our world. 

At WashU, we generate, disseminate, and apply knowledge. We foster freedom of inquiry and expression of ideas in our research, teaching, and learning. We aim to create an environment that encourages and supports wide-ranging exploration at the frontier of discovery by embracing diverse perspectives from individuals of all identities and backgrounds. We promote higher education and rigorous research as a fundamental component of an open, vibrant society. We strive to enhance the lives and livelihoods not only of our students, patients, and employees but also of the people of the greater St. Louis community and beyond. We do so by addressing scientific, social, economic, medical, and other challenges in the local, national, and international realms. 

Our goals

  • To foster excellence and creativity in our teaching, research, scholarship, patient care, and service 
  • To welcome students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds to create an inclusive, equitable community that is nurturing and intellectually rigorous 
  • To cultivate in students habits of lifelong learning and critical and ethical thinking, thereby enabling them to be productive members and leaders of a global society 
  • To contribute positively to our home community of St. Louis, and to effect meaningful, constructive change in our world 

To this end, we intend:

  • To hold ourselves to the highest standards of excellence
  • To educate aspiring leaders of great ability from diverse backgrounds 
  • To encourage faculty, staff, and students to be innovative, bold, independent, critical thinkers 
  • To build an inclusive, equitable, respectful, ethically principled environment for living, teaching, learning, and working for present and future generations 
  • To focus on meaningful and measurable outcomes for all of our endeavors 

Our guiding principles

We hold fast to five pillars that must undergird any changes if we are to make substantive progress.

Academic Distinction

Washington University strives for excellence in education, research, and patient care. This tenet is the cornerstone of our institution – and the heart. It informs and inspires everything we do. Our strategic plan will center academic distinction and advance this proud legacy for years to come. 

Community Impact

Washington University aspires to have a positive impact on the growth pathway of each person in our community (faculty, staff, students, and patients) as well as on the lives of all members of the surrounding St. Louis community. Our faculty, staff, and students are lifted up and inspired by the local communities with which we engage and where we reside. We will establish and sustain mutually enhancing relationships that elevate both Washington University and the surrounding community.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)

Washington University aims to be a diverse community fully committed to the principles of equity, fairness, and inclusive excellence. We will pursue and value inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in our research, learning, clinical, and administrative environments so that we can benefit from the rich perspectives and contributions of individuals from all backgrounds. 

Global Perspective

Washington University is firmly rooted in St Louis, and its vision of academic excellence extends beyond our local and national geography. The discovery and dissemination of knowledge is truly a global enterprise based on an environment of open collaboration and engagement with scholarship, challenges, and viewpoints around the world. We cherish the varied perspectives and practices that our international students, staff, and faculty bring to our community, and we value the intellectual fellowship we construct with our academic partners around the world.


Washington University rests on the contributions of many generations that pushed the boundaries of knowledge and service, guaranteed the free expression of ideas, and sacrificed time and effort to build our fields and institution. We will honor their careful stewardship by building on the spirit of their accomplishments and ensuring that the resources entrusted to our care grow in a sustainable way so that future generations will retain the ability to further the University’s mission in perpetuity.