This policy serves to guide the development and maintenance of the STARS. The goals of the STARS governance structure are to:
- Engage the higher education community in providing technical and strategic guidance for STARS.
- Facilitate continuous improvement of the STARS program.
- Provide strategic guidance to STARS, including sound financial oversight.
- Enhance the transparency of the STARS program.
There are several components of the STARS governance structure illustrated in the diagram above. Four of these entities are highlighted here:
- Technical Committees
Technical Committees are topical subcommittees of the AASHE Advisory Council (AC). The Technical Committees are based on STARS categories or subcategories. While AASHE may consult with additional subject matter experts who are not AC members, the Technical Committees are the primary source for input and insight regarding the content of STARS credits and the technical aspects of the rating system.
Technical Committee members should possess:
- The ability and desire to contribute technical expertise in an unbiased manner.
- A strong expertise in at least one content area covered in STARS.
- Familiarity with sustainability indicators.
- Effective communication skills.
- The ability to be collaborative and work well on a team.
Participation is voluntary. Any AC member may elect to participate in one or more Technical Committee.
C. Roles and Responsibilities
- Technical Committee members respond to inquiries specific to their areas of expertise from AASHE staff and contribute to the ongoing technical development of STARS. For more information, see the STARS Technical Development Policy.
- Each Technical Committee may be asked to provide written responses to questions posed by AASHE staff and may also be convened by staff via conference call as needed. AASHE staff incorporate the input from Technical Committees into proposals for the STARS Steering Committee.
- Technical Committee members participate by email, attend calls and contribute sufficient time, effort, and enthusiasm to ensure that STARS is technically rigorous and up-to-date. The time commitment is estimated to be 1-2 hours per month. AC members receive no remuneration for their services.
- Technical Committee members also play a role if the validity of STARS data is called into question as detailed in the STARS Data Accuracy Policy.
Terms of service are consistent with Advisory Council membership.
E. Guidelines for Recusal from Decision-Making
If a Technical Committee member becomes aware of a possible or actual conflict of interest with regard to having a previous and/or ongoing personal or professional relationship with any STARS institution(s) or partner organization(s), the member shall notify the STARS Program Manager in writing of the conflict of interest and explain the nature of the conflict. Technical Advisors are expected to recuse themselves from discussion and/or providing input to recommendations if they become aware that the matter at hand involves and/or is brought to STARS by an institution or organization with which the member is affiliated or has been affiliated in the past (as an employee, consultant, alumnus, parent of a student, etc.). Recusal should be submitted in writing to the STARS Program Manager.
- STARS Steering Committee
The STARS Steering Committee (SC) is composed of seven to twelve representatives from AASHE member organizations and/or STARS Partner Organizations.
The STARS Program Manager and the AASHE Director of Programs serve as ex-officio members of the committee, with the former having voting privileges.
The committee is led by a Chair (or a Chair and a Vice-Chair) selected by the committee; the term is one year. If needed, additional staff support for the committee is identified by the STARS Program Manager or AASHE Director of Programs.
Steering Committee members should possess:
- A deep understanding of AASHE’s mission and the goals of STARS
- Broad familiarity with the content areas covered in STARS
- Familiarity with rating systems
- Familiarity with sustainability indicators
- Effective communication skills
- Ability to be collaborative and work well on a team
- Application. A call for applications is issued annually unless there are insufficient vacant slots to warrant an election. AASHE staff determine the number of open positions, at least one-third of which must be elected by AASHE member vote, review all applications and put forward a slate of eligible candidates.
- Election and Appointment. The primary contact for each AASHE member organization is issued a ballot through which the organization may vote for its preferred candidate(s). The open positions to be elected are filled by the candidates that receive the most votes. The remaining openings are filled through appointments by the STARS Program Manager in consultation with the AASHE Director of Programs to help ensure that the SC reflects a diversity of institution types and contexts and AASHE’s commitment to racial equity and social justice.
- Additional Appointments. Additional appointments may be made by the STARS Program Manager in consultation with the AASHE Director of Programs when vacancies occur. For example, a qualified substitute may be appointed to serve during an SC member’s maternity, paternity or adoptive leave.
C. Roles and Responsibilities
STARS Steering Committee members:
- Advise on STARS policy, finances, and strategic positioning in response to proposals from staff and other committee members and make recommendations to the AASHE Board of Directors and STARS staff as necessary. For example, the Steering Committee may be asked to provide feedback on topics such as educational offerings, revenue opportunities, partnerships or other activities related to the success of the program.
- Review and approve updates and revisions to the technical content of STARS, including each new version.
- Determine the appropriate course of action when a submission is contested and the issue cannot be resolved by staff.
The committee generally meets once a month by conference call and in-person as needed. Members are expected to attend calls and contribute sufficient time to address the continued development and strategic positioning of STARS. Members receive no remuneration for their services. A committee member may be asked to step down if they miss more than three meetings in a year.
Terms limits for committee members are three years and members may be reselected for a second term (not to exceed six consecutive years). AASHE’s Director of Programs and STARS Program Manager reserve the right to remove a Steering Committee member from the position without cause.
At any meeting of the Steering Committee a majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for the approval of policies or other decisions.
F. Action at Meeting
At any meeting of the Steering Committee at which a quorum is present, the action of the Committee on any matter brought before the meeting shall be decided by vote of a majority of voting members present.
G. Guidelines for Recusal from Decision-Making
If a STARS Steering Committee member becomes aware of a possible or actual conflict of interest with regard to having a previous and/or ongoing personal or professional relationship with any STARS institution(s) or partner organization(s), the member shall notify the STARS Program Manager in writing of the conflict of interest and explain the nature of the conflict.
Committee members are expected to recuse themselves from discussion and/or providing input to recommendations if they become aware that the matter at hand involves and/or is brought to STARS by an institution or organization with which the Steering Committee member is affiliated or has been affiliated in the past (as an employee, consultant, alumnus, parent of a student, etc.). Recusal should be submitted in writing to the STARS Program Manager.
- STARS Partner Organizations
STARS Partner Organizations are higher education associations and other non-profit organizations that provide value to the development and promotion of STARS. Any non-profit or non-governmental organization may apply to become a STARS Partner Organization.
AASHE determines which organizations to invite or accept as Partner Organizations, but may work with the STARS Steering Committee to identify potential partners.
C. Roles and Responsibilities
AASHE supports each Partner Organization by:
- Recognizing the organization on the STARS website.
- Providing the opportunity for a representative from the Partner Organization to participate on the AASHE Advisory Council (which provides guidance and input on STARS technical development) and/or stand for election to the STARS Steering Committee.
- Granting the Partner Organization use of the STARS Partner Organization seal to indicate the organization’s status on its website and in marketing materials.
- Providing access to materials to help educate their constituents about STARS.
- Presenting about STARS during webinars or other professional development events hosted by the Partner Organization (as available and as invited by the Partner Organization).
In exchange for this support, a Partner Organization:
- Educates its constituents about STARS (e.g., via webinars, blog posts, or articles).
- Advises on the technical content of STARS by responding to occasional questions from AASHE staff and, if interested, nominating a representative to serve on AASHE’s Advisory Council or stand for election to the STARS Steering Committee.
- Publicizes opportunities to give feedback on STARS to its constituents (e.g., during public comment periods on new drafts).
- Announces significant news about STARS to their constituents when relevant.
Partners receive no remuneration for their participation.
Each Partner Organization and AASHE will periodically revisit their agreement to ensure benefits and responsibilities are being carried out, particularly when major updates to STARS are taking place.
- AASHE Board of DirectorsThe AASHE Board of Directors is responsible for fiscal policies related to STARS.