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To many people the word “assessment” doesn’t inspire much excitement or enthusiasm. But I love assessment and I think you should, too! Assessment is definitely about research and measuring, but it’s also about reflection, curiosity, and values. It doesn’t just tell us how we’re doing, it asks us to think about what we value and to consider how we can best act in service of our purpose or mission. In fact, assessment is so intrinsically tied to an institution’s mission that the Federal government has codified it in the Title 34 Education Code, stating that an institution must set clear expectations regarding “success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution’s mission.”

Our mission is our heart and soul. It’s what motivates us to propel ourselves forward on unknown journeys in pursuit of a vision. Assessment blazes the trail toward that vision, setting up guideposts and markers along the way so we can stay focused and purposeful.

Presidians create a “flourishing future for all”

At Presidio, our mission is a simple and succinct imperative:

The mission of Presidio Graduate School is to educate changemakers to build a flourishing future for all.

The call to action that we all feel as Presidians—students, faculty, alumni, and staff alike—is to negotiate and innovate solutions to complex problems rooted in protecting our environment and advancing justice and joy for humankind. We value sustainability, social justice, systems thinking, anti-racism, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are committed to a calling that demands we work toward a brighter world for each of us, and all of us.

At Presidio, that work starts in designing a curriculum that provides students with the tools and skills to challenge and change the status quo. The curriculum is the (carbon neutral!) vehicle that our faculty and students drive toward the flourishing future we aspire to. The knowledge students gain at Presidio gives them access to new ways of thinking and being and to spaces where they act as disruptors and rebuilders.

A new kind of MBA that just keeps getting better

Presidio offers a unique MBA that looks not only at the bottom line, but is also dedicated to the triple bottom line—people, planet, and prosperity. As The New York Times put it, Presidio Graduate School is where you get your MBA “if you want to change the world.” The ability to change the world through a Presidio education is not a fantastical dream; it is a real and purposeful promise that we make to our students.

As with all types of organizations that operate on the cutting edge, Presidio is challenged to engage in an iterative process of continuous improvement to make good on our promise. Assessment is the series of actions that commit us to continuous improvement. Most recently, our assessment journey took us on a deep dive into our MBA curriculum to make sure it is still accomplishing what we need it to so that our students are equipped to advance our mission.

Our Academic Dean, Dr. Maggie Winslow, led the MBA curriculum review efforts, taking time to look at every single aspect of the program. She talked to dozens of people including faculty, students, alumni, and sustainability leaders at major organizations like Sunya Norman at Salesforce, Erik Hansen at Workday, and Jeffrey Hogue at Levi Strauss. She reviewed hundreds of data points including the most important skills required of sustainability practitioners, industry developments and demands, and student and alumni outcomes.

In the end, Dr. Winslow and all the advisors she spoke to affirmed that Presidio has a one-of-a-kind MBA program that is, in fact, changing the world one graduate at a time. The revised curriculum has new components, like a dedicated course on Climate and ESG and additional alignment of courses with each other and with the newest thought leadership. We’re also expanding our elective offerings so students have more opportunities to dabble in content areas they’re specifically interested in, such as carbon accounting, materiality, and anti-racism.  Some of these new courses are the natural extension of talking to expert practitioners. They maintain their role on the front lines, but also share their knowledge not only as part of helping develop our curriculum, but by teaching our students in the classroom.These changes create a program that is perfectly in sync with business, sustainability, and social justice trends and developments.

Mission: possible

Our MBA curriculum review process is a perfect example of assessment at work. It gave us an opportunity to look closely at the program, its deliverables, and its purpose. It is a process we engage in over and over, an endless cycle of reiteration and evolution. Each step of the process requires that we ask ourselves if we are honoring and advancing our mission. Are we teaching the right things in the right way so that our students can go out and make a real impact in designing a flourishing future for all?

The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Our mission is noble and ambitious, and through our commitment to continuously improve ourselves and our world, it is also very, very possible.

Are you ready to build the skills you need to create meaningful change in the world? There’s no better time to make a changefor yourself and for the worldand there’s no better place to do it. Learn more about our MBA, MPA, Dual Degree, and Certificate programs, and then start a conversation with us!

About the Author / Clair Baca

Clair is the Associate Vice President of Institutional and Student Effectiveness at Presidio Graduate School. She has worked in higher education for over 15 years, primarily in the areas of student services, institutional research, and accreditation and compliance. Clair has undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy, a master's degree in leadership, and is currently pursuing her doctor of education. She's passionate about education, social justice, and women's issues. Clair lives in Southern California with her partner, teenage son, and four very spoiled cats.

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