Gauging Alumni Perceptions of the Effectiveness of the Masters of Public Administration Program at Southwest Texas State University in Meeting Its Mission
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Many higher educational institutions today have to face issues concerning institutional quality and accountability. The public is asking questions about the cost, pricing, outcomes and effectiveness of these institutions. When U.S. businesses were faced with global competitive difficulties, many responded by implementing quality management and continuous quality improvement principles. There is now a growing trend in higher education to implement these same quality principles. Continuous improvement in quality includes developing a mission that reflects the purpose and goals of an institution. Continuous improvement works best when an organization is diligent about self-assessment. Effective assessment is helped when an organization has clear purposes and goals - such as those derived from a mission statement. The Public Administration Graduate Program at Southwest Texas State University is a management/practitioner-oriented program. Its core mission is to prepare its students for careers as managers and leaders of public service; the tenets of its mission statement reflect the means by which the program strives to cultivate its students in the field of public administration. The purpose of this research project is to assess whether the MPA program at Southwest Texas State University is effectively meeting the tenets of its mission - via the perception of the program's alumni. The research methodology includes survey research and analysis of existing statistics. The questionnaire asked alumni to rate aspects of the MPA program that were reflected in the program's mission statement. The survey was sent to alumni (those whose addresses were on record with the graduate alumni office) that had graduated from the program within the past eight years (149 former students). Ninety-one former students completed and returned the survey. The findings of the research show that the program's alumni do perceive the MPA program to be successful in living up to its mission of preparing its students to be managers and leaders in the public service sector.