Log In
  • 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 Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
PA-3: Participatory Governance

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.75 / 3.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Do the institution’s students have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a student council)? :
Yes

Do the institution’s students have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which students are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

There are three student government associations at Penn State:
1. University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) http://upua.org/
2. Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) http://gpsa.psu.edu/
3. Council of Commonwealth Student Governments http://www.psuccsg.org/
Each group elects officers who in turn represent their constituents on various Penn State governance bodies, including the Board of Trustees.

A student member is elected to Penn State's Board of Trustees, beginning in May 2015 and bi-annually thereafter, following the procedures laid out in Standing Order IV: https://trustees.psu.edu/selection.html#student The Student Trustee shall be a full-time undergraduate, graduate or professional student, in good academic standing and in a degree seeking program at the University. Additional student representatives may be invited by the Chair of the Board of Trustees, or by committee chairs, to participate in committee meetings as non-voting members.

The Student Sustainabiliity Advisory Council was created in 2011. Students are selected through a competitive application/interview process and are commissioned by the President to serve on the SSAC, which acts as an advisory team to the President and the University Administration on sustainability issues. http://sites.psu.edu/ssac/

There also are student representatives on other university governance bodies, such as Faculty Senate, the Alumni Associations, Student Activity Fee Board, and Facilities Fee Board.


Do the institution’s staff members have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a staff council)?:
Yes

Do the institution’s non-supervisory staff members have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
No

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which staff are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

Penn State encourages staff to become involved in University policy-making through a variety of committees. The broadest oversight is that of the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC), which exists to facilitate open and equitable deliberations over the policies, procedures and programming that impact Penn States staff. All full-time staff employees are eligible to serve. Appointments to USAC are made in an effort to provide a diverse representation of employees in exempt and nonexempt (including non-supervisory) positions from a variety of University units and locations. In addition, many of the University's colleges and organizations have their own advisory councils on which staff and faculty serve. For examples, visit http://ohr.psu.edu/university-staff-advisory-council/resources/


Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a faculty senate)?:
Yes

Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body? :
Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which teaching and research faculty are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

The University Faculty Senate is the representative body of Penn State's faculty with legislative authority on all matters pertaining to the educational interests of the University and all educational matters that concern the faculties of more than one college. In addition, the Senate is recognized by the University as an advisory and consultative body to the President on all matters that may affect the attainment of the University's educational objectives.

The Senate is comprised of faculty senators who are elected from each college and campus. Senate seats are allocated proportionately by unit, based on the ratio of full-time unit faculty to the total number of full-time University faculty. Other Senate representation includes undergraduate/graduate student senators, ex officio, and members appointed by the President. Senate committee chairs invite other members of the University community to participate in the work of the committees as resources. http://senate.psu.edu/

Faculty are represented on the Board of Trustees by the election of an Academic Trustee. Selection of this individual begins with a recommendation by the Faculty Senate, and follows procedures outlined in Standing Order V: https://trustees.psu.edu/selection.html#academic


Does the institution have written policies and procedures to identify and engage external stakeholders (i.e. local residents) in land use planning, capital investment projects, and other institutional decisions that affect the community?:
Yes

A copy of the written policies and procedures:
The policies and procedures:

Penn State's Office of Government and Community Relations established a Director of Local Government and Community Relations in 2015. The Director serves as a liaison to the municipal governments of the Centre Region and attends municipal government meetings, the Centre Region Council of Government (CRCOG) monthly meetings, and necessary committee meetings including those of the Public Service and Environment Committee and Spring Creek Watershed Commission.

Penn State's Office of Physical Plant energy, land use, stormwater, and planning staff also regularly attend regional governmental, authority, and commission meetings where capital project, land use, and stormwater planning must be worked on. As of 2016, Penn State began working with the CRCOG municipalities that hold Municipally Separated Storm Sewer System permits (MS4) on a Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP). They are coordinating through a Memorandum of Understanding - see attached file.


Does the institution have formal participatory or shared governance bodies through which community members representing the interests of the following stakeholder groups can regularly participate in institutional governance?:
Yes or No
Local government and/or educational organizations Yes
Private sector organizations Yes
Civil society (e.g. NGOs, NPOs) Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which external stakeholders are engaged in institutional governance (including information about each stakeholder group selected above):

Representation by local government and/ or educational organizations: the state Secretary of Education serves as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.

Representation by private sector organizations: The Board of Trustees' charter provides for the election of six trustees representing business and industry endeavors.

Representation by civil society: The Board of Trustees' charter provides for the election of six trustees who represent the organized agricultural societies or associations in the Commonwealth.

As a state-related university, Penn State's governance structure gives some preference to state representation, especially in the selection process for the six agricultural delegates and in the inclusion of state secretaries of the departments of Agriculture; Education; and Conservation and Natural Resources as ex officio members. However local community members and organizations are not given a special role in university governance.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.