Roosevelt University is pleased to announce the submission of our first Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) data set. This is a watershed moment in our institution’s ongoing efforts to green its physical operations; expand sustainability education and research opportunities; and live out our historic mission of promoting social justice in an age of ecological crisis and economic inequity.
STARS is a comprehensive evaluation system of sustainability performance for colleges and universities, hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). With this submission, Roosevelt joins 735 other institutions in this self-reporting assessment with which they may measure their progress and learn from one another.
RU scored 40.50 points, earning our institution a STARS Bronze-level rating. This achievement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many individuals at Roosevelt, including our students, faculty, and staff. As one of the high priority short-term goals of our Strategic Sustainability Plan, which was implemented earlier this year, we began in the spring of 2015 by organizing our students in a SUST 390 special topics course, “The Sustainable Campus”.
Nineteen undergraduate students formed research teams in all four STARS assessment categories — Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning/Administration — developed research plans/timelines, reached out to key university staff and faculty, and gathered data for the assessment. This project gave them hands-on experience using the STARS assessment tool and galvanized widespread campus interest in the project within every office and department from the Advising Center to the Math Department to the Registrar. Thanks to the commitment of this class to laying the foundation for Roosevelt’s STARS data set, the way was paved for us to officially participate in this program.
This fall, a STARS Reporting Team of students, faculty, and staff painstakingly reviewed and edited these data in preparation for submitting this official report on behalf of RU to AASHE for STARS certification. The team consisted of Rebecca Quesnell (Sustainable Operations Coordinator in Physical Resources), Maria Cancilla (STARS Student Intern), Shannon Conway (Environmental Sustainability Student Associate), Brennan Morrow (Energy Management Student Associate), Mike Bryson (Professor & Director of Sustainability Studies), and Graham Pickren (Assistant Professor of Sustainability Studies).
Their efforts have moved RU forward in documenting our vision of sustainability and represent the ongoing collaboration between RU’s Department of Physical Resources and the Sustainability Studies undergradate program in promoting sustainability at Roosevelt. The knowledge and insight gained from our first STARS report will be of immense value as a baseline of current practice and a guidepost for future improvements.
While earning a STARS designation is an important step on Roosevelt’s journey as an individual institution, the greater task of envisioning and creating a truly sustainable world is immense and complex. Colleges and universities are not only well suited to engage in this important work through innovation, education, and community engagement, they are obliged to do so. Such a worthy task is before us at Roosevelt, a distinctive urban university long committed to advancing social justice and cultivating progressive leadership in its home bioregion of Chicago and beyond.
Editor’s note: the above announcement was adapted from President Ali Malekzadeh’s official letter of support that is part of RU’s STARS report. You can read his letter in pdf format and view RU’s full data set and report on the STARS website.