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Kean University

Kean Wins Recognition for Sustainability

Students clean up the river on campus

Kean was recently recognized for its sustainability achievements in areas such as research, curriculum, diversity and campus engagement with a silver STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

The STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. The rating measures sustainability accomplishments in all aspects of higher education.

“Kean University is committed to sustainability goals across the institution – from physical improvements such as the EV charging stations to research focused on the environment and environmental justice,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “I thank the Presidential Task Force for Sustainability and all Kean community members who contributed to this important work.”

Felice Vazquez, Kean senior vice president for planning and special counsel to the president, and Daniela Shebitz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences serve as co-chairs of the President’s Sustainability Task Force. The task force creates and supports sustainability initiatives at Kean and consists of 47 faculty, staff, students and administrators from all of the University's campuses.

Vazquez said she is grateful to the Kean community for its input in the STARS application process.

“Achieving silver on our first try is a great accomplishment and a reflection on who we are at Kean,” Vazquez said. “Sustainability has a lot to do with the physical environment, and Kean definitely maintains these issues as a focus; but it is also about issues of environmental justice, human rights and building sustainable communities. That is in Kean’s DNA.”

The STARS reporting was broken into four major categories: academics, engagement, operations and planning/administration.

In academics and research, Kean earned STARS points for programs such as Travelearn opportunities focused on the environment; research connected to the United Nations 17 Sustainability Development Goals; and the fact that almost half of Kean students take a course linked to some of the U.N. goals, which include diversity, poverty, climate change, wellness and biodiversity.

Kean was recognized in the area of engagement for community partnerships and inter-campus collaborations relating to sustainability, including work done by the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research; and for activities such as food composting and river cleanups; and biodiversity monitoring at Kean Skylands.

In planning and administration, Shebitz said, Kean excelled in the areas of access and affordability, support for underrepresented groups and diversity and equity coordination.

“In addition, President Repollet's Wellness Initiative and his emphasis on employee satisfaction are some of the areas where we shine the brightest,” she said. “Human health and well-being are incredibly important components of what sustainability is all about.”

The President's Sustainability Task Force Goal Leaders are David Farrokh, assistant dean, College of Business and Public Management; Sarah Coykendall, managing assistant director, Holocaust Resource Center, Diversity Council on Global Education and Citizenship; A.J. Whitmore, director of facilities, Facilities & Campus Planning; Suzanne Kupiec, director of Environmental Health and Safety; and Orley Wainberg, assistant vice president for Business Affairs.

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities, with more than 900 members in 40 countries, working to create a sustainable future.