Jan. 19, 2012 -- The University of Wisconsin-River Falls has received a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The rating is the highest to date amongst UWRF's Carnegie Classification peers.
UWRF was a charter participant in the STARS pilot program in 2008, during which the rating system was designed, vetted, and refined to reflect the broadest base of sustainability efforts possible. The university's current report information was gathered and submitted through the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development (SCISCD), with broad campus support from more than 30 individuals in 19 departments spanning the full spectrum of administrative and academic faculty and staff. The outline of sustainability efforts used in STARS is also being adopted by the SCISCD to draft the university's Climate Action Plan, Sustainable Campus Community Plan, websites, and other efforts to give all sustainability efforts a common and recognizable platform.
"Sustainability is an integral part of our mission, vision and values at UWRF," says Chancellor Dean Van Galen. "Our commitment is evident through such efforts as our participation in the American Colleges and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, participation in STARS, the development of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development, and the continued development of sustainability curriculum and programs to educate tomorrow's leaders in state-of-the-art sustainability values, principles, and practices."
AASHE's STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: 1) education & research, 2) operations, and 3) planning, administration & engagement.
"STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts," said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. "The University of Wisconsin-River Falls has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts."
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
"As we all know, we only manage what we measure, and we only measure what we value," said Kelly Cain, SCISCD director. "STARS is the 21st century set of metrics by which campus values, principles, and practices must become increasingly relevant in the lives of our students and stakeholders, or we risk irrelevance as an institution."
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE's mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.