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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.76
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date July 29, 2011
President's Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Pennsylvania State University
PAE-2: Strategic Plan

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.00 / 6.00 Erik Foley
Director
Campus Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Year the strategic plan or equivalent was completed or adopted:
2,009

Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the environmental dimensions of sustainability at a high level?:
Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the environmental ... (Yes)

A brief description of how the strategic plan or amendment addresses the environmental dimensions of sustainability:

The Penn State Strategic Plan "Priorities for Excellence" emphasizes the environmental aspect of sustainability from the very beginning, placing it as a major driver in the introduction and listing it as a guiding value of the institution.

From the introduction:

"Despite the obvious challenges, these are also times of opportunity in which we must move
forward strategically, recognizing that we always have finite resources. We must innovate. We
must prioritize. We must continue to think boldly. Penn State can do more than withstand the
current challenges; it can emerge as an even stronger institution that is highly competitive among
its peers. A key to emerging a stronger university will be creating a sustainable university, not
just in conventional environmental terms, but sustainable in a wide array of resource dimensions,
including fiscal sustainability."

As a guiding value:
"Environmental sustainability is researched, taught, promoted and practiced."


Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the social dimensions of sustainability at a high level?:
Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the social dimensions ... (Yes)

A brief description of how the strategic plan or amendment addresses the social dimensions of sustainability:

The Penn State Strategic Plan "Priorities for Excellence" emphasizes the social dimensions of sustainability by including commitments to ensuring accessibility/affordability, an awareness of global issues and the importance of cultural diversity, a commitment to ethics education, and a renewed dedication to our nationally recognized Framework for Fostering Diversity in all our operations and programs.

These themes are emphasized in the strategic plan and in our "Framework for Diversity" which features seven pillars or challenges Penn State is committing to facing. This framework, adopted in 1998, is again emphasized in our current strategic plan. More on this nationally recognized framework and the indicators used to evaluate its success at: http://www.equity.psu.edu/Framework/index.asp


Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the economic dimensions of sustainability at a high level?:
Does the institution's strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include the economic ... (Yes)

A brief description of how the strategic plan or amendment addresses the economic dimensions of sustainability:

The Penn State Strategic Plan "Priorities for Excellence" emphasizes both the external--economic development in the community and state--and internal--operational cost reduction, total cost of ownership considerations--economic dimensions of sustainability by placing it in several areas. Two examples are sustainability's place in Penn State's proud tradition of public service and outreach:

"As part of its land-grant mission, Penn State serves the people of the Commonwealth in a role that
is far larger than simply educating its citizens in the University’s classrooms. . .This mission is crucial to Penn State, but in tough economic times, the nature of the mission will need to be adapted because of the changing
nature of financial support, new technologies for delivery, and the desire to include more areas of the University to address the Commonwealth’s increasingly complex social, economic, and environmental challenges."

This strategic priority has already manifested in a number of leading online and in-person credit and non-credit courses delivered via Continuing Education and World Campus, energy and environmental services provided by the Small Business Development Center, alternative energy assistance and sustainable agriculture training provided by Cooperative Extension, and award-winning programming produced by WPSU TV and radio including Liquid Assets, a nationally recognized documentary about the United States' aging water infrastructure. These are just some examples of how Penn State actively engages with the economic dimension of sustainability for and with our external customers and partners.

INTERNAL
Sustainability sits squarely in one of the main seven strategic goals in the plan. An excerpt below from the section "Goal 7: Control Costs and Generate Additional Efficiencies" explains the university's goal and commitment to the economic dimensions of sustainability:

INTERNAL
"7.8 Strategy: Establish and Foster Sustainable Environments
Action:

The increasing pressures on global resources and environmental conditions make it imperative that Penn State embrace sustainability in its many dimensions in ways
that would position the University as a leader nationally and internationally. The University can demonstrate its leadership in terms of the incorporation of sustainability in its educational programs, in its research and knowledge creation about global issues surrounding sustainability, and in operating its multitude of facilities across the Commonwealth. In keeping with the theme of prioritization
and excellence, strategies to embrace sustainability efforts are offered with the expectation that short-term investments will be necessary but that they can lead to
long-term savings. The current economic and environmental crises affecting a wide range of everyday existence for most of the Penn State community and its constituencies provide a platform from which responses can consider the impacts on sustainability. Energy and the environment are two critically important dimensions of sustainability, but
there are far more dimensions that can be considered.
Penn State has been a leader in many aspects of sustainability education and operations from its support for the Center for Sustainability to its purchases of
green power. The University benefits greatly from cooperation among many academic and administrative units in making these advances possible. There are numerous academic-administrative partnerships with students and researchers in
areas such as emission reduction and the efficient use and conservation of resources. Also, Finance & Business has earned multiple awards in the area of environmental stewardship, with programs such as the use of biofuels in its service fleet, adoption of a new LEED policy for all new buildings, reductions in the University’s greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging bicycle use, an increased
recycling effort that already has resulted in 57 percent recycling rate of all Penn State municipal solid
waste, and much more."


The website URL where information about the strategic plan is available:

The information presented here is self-reported and has not been verified by AASHE or a third party. If you believe any of this information is erroneous, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Accuracy Inquiry Form.