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Stetson scores bronze for sustainability

Biology Professor Cindy Bennington helps students plant a longleaf pine next to Rinker Environmental Center, which helped contribute to Stetson’s Bronze STARS rating.

Stetson University has received a STARS Bronze Rating in recognition of their 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.

“Stetson University has long supported environmental and social responsibility as core values,” said Wendy B. Libby, president of Stetson University. “We are proud to be charter members of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and welcome the opportunity to build on this commitment through STARS participation.”

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.

With the support of numerous staff and faculty, Tony Abbot, associate professor and department chair of Geography and Environmental Science at Stetson, worked with students to establish baseline data on sustainability practices at the university for 2010-2011.

“We are very proud to have achieved a STARS Rating for our sustainability accomplishments. We look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through the STARS program,” said Abbott.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “Stetson University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Bronze 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.

Institutions that wish to participate in STARS but do not want to publish their scores may participate as a STARS Reporter. Institutions that wish to be scored may earn one of four other levels of STARS ratings: bronze, silver, gold or platinum.