Celebrating the life and accomplishments of Richard M. Gray

The Memorial Service/Life Celebration for Dick Gray will be Saturday, May 13 at 2:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, 1510 Fifth Avenue.
Click here to read his obituary.

Dick was a mentor to so many people here at PGS, and he was a personal support to me, providing firm, but gentle guidance whenever tough decisions arose. He always had the best interest of the school in his heart driven by a deep commitment to collaborative and innovative learning. This is exactly is what PGS is all about. We are committed to continuing his legacy, where “everyone learns from everyone else.”

-Suzanne Farver, PGS Board Chair

About Richard M. Gray

Graduating from high school at the age of 14, Richard Gray entered Bucknell in 1938. He graduated in 1942 with Phi Beta Kappa honors earning degrees in English and Social Sciences.

After beginning his career in advertising, he served three years in the U.S. Navy as an officer aboard the U.S.S. Somers, a destroyer on convoy duty in the North Atlantic. After World War II ended, he resumed his career, quickly rising through the ranks in the advertising business from copywriter to creative director.

His career took a major turn when, in 1958, he decided to enter the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California. Three years later, he earned his Master of Divinity degree, summa cum laude. For the next seven years, he served in the campus ministry at Portland State University in Oregon. In 1972, he earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

One of his major accomplishments is the founding of World College West in 1973, an independent, accredited, international liberal arts college in Marin County, California that combined a high-quality liberal arts education with significant international experiences. In starting this ambitious venture, he raised $13 million to establish the college and construct a 20-acre campus. He served as president of the college from 1973-88.

“Dick (He) spoke at our reunion in 1995 and I remember him saying two things that shaped his life:
1) Avoid irreversible mistakes and
2) Act out of love.”

-World College West alumnus, True Rosaschi

In 1992 Richard won the Bucknell Association Award: “Service to Humanity” which is awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose selfless and caring work benefits society and humankind. He has been a member of the governing boards of Lewis and Clark College, the San Francisco Theological Seminary, the United Nations Association, and of course, the PGS Board of Directors. He also served as the board chair of the Marin Education Fund, which awards some $2 million in scholarships each year for education and childcare.

The Evolution of PGS – By Dick Gray


About the founding of Presidio Graduate School

Founded by Richard Gray in 1973, Word College West (WCW) is the seed that eventually grew to become Presidio Graduate School. World College West closed in 1992, but the spirit of WCW lives on in Dick Gray’s successor institution Presidio World College founded in 1993, which was renamed Presidio Graduate School (PGS) in 2003.

While PGS’s setting and educational level are new, its vision, values, and philosophy are based largely on the experience of its predecessor, World College West, an accredited work-study, world-study liberal arts college founded in 1973 and operated on its 194-acre environmentally designed campus in Marin County until 1992. Its experiential learning philosophy was based on the premise that only disciplined reflection on experience leads to learning that lasts. At World College West that included seminar-size classes, work experience, and a year’s study in a non-Western culture such as China, Mexico, Russia, or Nepal.

At Presidio Graduate School, students are educated and inspired to be a new generation of skilled, visionary, and enterprising leaders transforming business and public policy and creating a more just, prosperous, and sustainable world. Presidio activates students and professionals across a range of disciplines, industries, and sectors to bridge the gap between commerce and the common good.

In 1996, soon after the Presidio of San Francisco, a 200-year-old military post adjoining the Golden Gate Bridge, was converted to an urban National Park, the School established its presence in this 1,490-acre natural setting in one of the nation’s most attractive cities.

For several years, PGS offered non-degree courses and seminars in a program known as Sustainable Later-Life Design, focusing on areas contributing to an integrated, sustainable second half of life: Purposeful Work, Physical Well-Being, Economic Security, Spiritual Grounding, Meaningful Relationships, and Commitment to the Community. PGS also worked collaboratively with AARP and developed programs co-sponsored by Elderhostel, which was seeking ways to serve younger, midlife adults. But the Presidio board and administration were especially interested in developing sustainability-oriented degree programs.

So, in 1999, the School signed a contract with Vermont’s Goddard College for Presidio to develop and pilot-test, during the 2000-01 academic year, a B.A.-completion program known as S E E D (Sustainable, Ethical, Enterprise Design).

Market research and focus groups revealed, however, that the major interest in sustainability-related higher education was from a different demographic group, men and women in their thirties and beyond seeking an MBA degree which integrates concerns for the sustainability of “People, Planet, and Profit.”

In 2002, therefore, the School signed an affiliation agreement with accredited Alliant International University to conduct an MBA program with a concentration in Sustainable Management.

The school has earned its own independent accreditation and acquired Pinchot University, formerly Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI). The School has conducted the two-year MBA Program in Sustainable Management for thirteen years (the first cohort enrolled in BGA in 2002 and Presidio World College in 2003 respectively). The school now offers PGS100, an Online-only program, two MBAs in Seattle, an MPA program in Sustainable Public Administration in governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations, as well as a Dual MBA/MPA Degree and several Certificate programs in Sustainable Management for executives.

Unlike schools which offer individual courses or programs in the social, financial and environmental dimensions of business and public policy, PGS integrates all three of these dimensions to decision-making in every single course.

To date, more than 1,600 graduates have earned the M.B.A. and M.P.A. degrees. These uniquely prepared graduates are leading the sustainability movement around the globe.




September 2016:

Master’s Degrees with Meaning

September 2016:

Sustainability: The Challenges and the Response

August 2013:

Richard Gray on exploring a federal model for Presidio



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