2017 AASHE Annual Report

Mission, Vision & Values

Mission: To inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation

Vision: Lead higher education to be a foundation for a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world.

Values: Transparency, Collaboration, Hope, Stewardship, Innovation, Courage, Accountability, Diversity.

AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations.

2018 - 2020 Strategic Plan

This year, we launched the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan which represents over a year of work in collecting feedback and envisioning how we can best serve our members and advance our mission over the next three years. This plan is a guide to continue to improve upon our programs and services and increase value to our members. It provides direction for our future, details on how we’ll accomplish our goals, and indicators for measuring our performance.

Goals & Objectives

Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)

STARS was introduced in 2009 as a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It incentivizes institutions to deepen their efforts and provides an open platform for information sharing.

Stanford University and the University of New Hampshire joined Colorado State University as the only three institutions to earn a STARS Platinum rating, the highest available level of recognition in STARS.

In 2017, 126 institutions earned STARS ratings. By the end of the year, there were 343 rated institutions out of 878 participating institutions (726 from the U.S., 72 from Canada and 80 from other countries).

Other STARS highlights include:

  • An enhanced template was released to help STARS participants assess their food and beverage purchasing
  • A new STARS Review template was released as part of our efforts to continuously improve STARS data quality and the reporting process

2017 AASHE Conference & Expo

The 2017 AASHE Conference & Expo was held Oct. 15-18 in San Antonio, Texas. With a theme of “Stronger in Solidarity,” the conference brought attendees together to discuss how the campus sustainability community can break down walls, build bridges and continue to make progress toward a healthy and equitable future for all.

1,693 attendees from 14 countries gathered together to participate in 300 sessions and meet the 68 exhibitors, 27 sponsors and 10 host institutions.

Student Summit

Nearly 500 students came together to participate in innovative workshops, share ideas and find inspiration from Lydia D. Avila, Power Shift Network Executive Director and champion of youth-led climate justice work.

Ms. Avila shared important lessons she learned as a sustainability activist and her belief that young people will change the world. Speaking about the power of youth, she emphasized how every student's voice matters and can directly contribute to positive change in the world.

"AASHE provided us an amazing opportunity to connect with students across the country as well as inspire us to continue the movement of sustainability across our campuses." - Mary Bixler, Student at the University of Central Oklahoma

Opening Keynote Address

Climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s opening address shared strategies for effectively communicating about climate change and overcoming polarization.

Closing Keynote Address

Dr. Heather Hackman ended the conference with a bang by powerfully articulating the connections between social justice and sustainability. She urged and empowered the audience to center social justice in their work.

Sustainability Awards

The AASHE Sustainability Awards recognize sustainability achievements, research advancements and student leadership. By raising the visibility of high-impact sustainability projects and pioneering research, the awards program helps to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward sustainability.

The 2017 award winners were selected by groups of judges from among 230 submissions and will join more than 75 winners from previous years. We are proud of all the hard work by everyone striving to advance sustainability. Meet the winners!

Conference Sustainability

AASHE is committed to modeling sustainability at the conference. We implement a variety of practices to neutralize or minimize the conference’s environmental footprint and maximize our positive impact or “handprint.” While in San Antonio we served an entirely meatless menu, provided AASHE Sustainability Award Winners with a plaque from Rivanna that is made with FSC-certified wood, held a nearly cup-free conference thanks to Cupanion’s support, partnered with Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative; the Offset Network; and Urban Offsets Inc. to retire enough carbon offsets to mitigate all of the estimated emissions associated with travel to and from the conference as well as on-site energy use, and more.

Education & Professional Development

AASHE’s education and professional development efforts are designed to support sustainability advancements at institutions throughout the world. We aim to engage a diverse group of campus representatives—from faculty to sustainability officers, presidents to students—in dialogue and action to transform the sustainability movement.

Webinars & Workshops

In 2017, we held 39 webinars on topics ranging from move-out programs to civic engagement on climate change.

We also held three in-person workshops:

We partnered with 13 Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum on a pilot basis to offer 14 workshops or professional development opportunities on sustainability in the curriculum in an effort to increase the accessibility and diversity of sustainability-oriented training for faculty.

Mentorship Program Launched

New in 2017, the mentorship program was created to help members collaborate with peers at other institutions. Our program connects campus sustainability practitioners with peers to share knowledge, cooperate on projects and advance the field of higher education sustainability. During the first application period, 65 pairs of mentors and mentees were introduced!

Affiliates Program

As the campus sustainability movement has evolved, a wide variety of networks of campus sustainability advocates have emerged. These networks, which are often formed along state, provincial and/or regional lines, share many goals with AASHE. For this reason, we formalized a collaborative relationship with 17 networks throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Resources & Publications

Each year we work to provide new resources and publications to our community to ensure higher education sustainability practitioners are equipped with the latest information, details and trends to continuously advance sustainability. In 2017, we shared nearly 1,500 new resources and three new publications with our members.

The 2017 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) recognized top-performing colleges and universities in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
The 2017 report examined the nature of sustainability positions at colleges and universities, while providing insights into salaries, funding, supervision, job satisfaction, challenges and more.
This publication explored how sustainability is smart business for higher education and taught how to more powerfully articulate the value of sustainability.

With the addition of 1,494 resources to the Campus Sustainability Hub, we also introduced a new content type: Green Power Projects. AASHE members can now access detailed information on more than 700 solar and wind power installations at higher education institutions across the world.


AASHE membership is intended for the full spectrum of higher education institutions, businesses and other organizations – from community colleges to research universities, and from institutions just starting their sustainability programs to long-time campus sustainability leaders. 875 higher education institutions, businesses and nonprofit organizations comprise our membership base.

Member Survey

In 2017, our focus was to deliver on membership value through new and improved resources and providing excellent customer service. The 2017 Member Survey indicated success, with a 2% increase in member value and a 2% increase in customer service satisfaction over 2016 survey results. We are excited to continue our work to provide valuable resources to support sustainability advancements.

Member Spotlight

In an effort to continually celebrate successes of our members and recognize the passionate leaders who work tirelessly to advance sustainability at their campuses and in their surrounding communities, we continued the Member Spotlight. Get to know the four people highlighted in 2017.

Marketing & Outreach

An important role in advancing campus sustainability is regular communication to members and the community. AASHE communicates through its website, e-newsletters, emails, social media posts and press releases. AASHE also builds supportive partnerships and participates in outreach efforts to broaden our scope and awareness to the larger sustainability community.

Major marketing efforts in 2017 included:

Board, Staff & Leadership

Board of Directors

  • Charles Richardson, Chair, Claflin University
  • Richard A. Miller, Vice Chair, University of Connecticut
  • Jay Antle, Ph.D., Secretary, Johnson County Community College
  • KyuJung Whang, Treasurer, Princeton University
  • Ben Champion, DPhil., University of Arizona
  • Monica Dean, Smith College
  • Ann Erhardt, Michigan State University
  • Sally Grans Korsh, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
  • Trina Innes, MF, MBA, ICD.D, University of Alberta
  • Benjamin Jarrett, Kimberly-Clark Professional*
  • Jon Jensen, Luther College
  • Cynthia Klein-Banai, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Kim D. Smith, Ph.D., Portland Community College – Sylvania


  • Jade Chalkey, Resources Intern
  • Jessica Chase, CAE, Director of Membership and Marketing
  • Julian Dautremont-Smith, Director of Programs
  • Tylor Dodge, Web Application Developer
  • Robert Erb, IT Manager
  • Meghan Fay Zahniser, Executive Director
  • Andrea Huggins, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
  • Nikia Johnson, Member Services Manager
  • Allison Jones, Director of Finance & Administration
  • Chris Pelton, STARS Program Manager
  • Daita Serghi, Education Programs Manager
  • Crystal Simmons, Programs Coordinator
  • Kimberly Smith, Director of Conference & Events
  • Noah Swistak, Member Services Coordinator
  • Monika Urbanski, Data & Content Manager
  • Margueritte Williams, Staff Accountant

Councils & Committees

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the members serving on the following AASHE councils and committees in 2017:

Business Leaders & Supporters

Thank you to our Business Leaders and Supporters who help make our programs and services possible.

Business Leaders include:

Business Supporters include:

As we look back on 2017, it’s easy to remember the significant challenges we faced, but our members, the AASHE community, continue to rise up to face these challenges and do the work on college and university campuses throughout the world to advance sustainability.

We are so appreciative to the nearly 1,000 members that span thousands of administrators, faculty, staff and students who continue to work tirelessly to lead higher education to be a foundation for a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world. Thank you to everyone for your hard work. Let’s keep it up in 2018!

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