As the New Year kicked off and we were busy planning for all that 2019 had in store for the AASHE community, sad news from Vermont traveled quickly to us about Green Mountain College closing its doors this May after 185 years. We are all deeply saddened for our friends in Poultney, yet thankful for the lasting legacy and impact the College has had in the higher education sustainability movement.
Green Mountain College’s history and roots run deep not only in Vermont but with AASHE as well. Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, Bill Throop, served on the AASHE Board of Directors for six years and was Chair of the Board for his last two years. Bill – your leadership was instrumental in ushering AASHE to where it is today, we are forever grateful for your vision, dedication and passion to this movement. Jacob Park, Professor of Business Strategy and Sustainability and Director of the Service Learning Program, has been a steady voice and source of great knowledge serving on AASHE’s Advisory Council since 2015. Jacob – your expertise and guidance has helped AASHE grow and evolve. Director of Sustainability, Ryan Ihrke, participated in the inaugural launch of our Mentorship Program both as a mentor and mentee and has been a familiar face and presenter at our annual conferences. Ryan – your big picture thinking and unwavering persistence to keep pushing beyond goals will no doubt continue to inspire students and colleagues. To all of the faculty, staff and students who have engaged with AASHE over the years and have worked to contribute to the sustainability efforts on campus – your hard work and persistence has not only pushed Green Mountain College to continuously raise the sustainability bar, but it has motivated others to do so as well.
Having been a member of AASHE since the beginning and a STARS Charter Participant, it has been an honor to support and celebrate with the College in all of its tremendous achievements over the years. While not a complete list, here are few highlights:
- GMC received a perfect “green rating” in the last four editions of Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll. The guide ranked the top “green” schools in the country in 2015 for the first time, and GMC was rated second in the nation. In 2016 and 2017, GMC was ranked third.
- The College has been ranked in Sierra Magazine’s Cool Schools in the top 15 since 2009 (the only college in the nation to do so). In 2018, GMC tied for first place.
- Earned STARS Gold in 2018.
- Achieved the overall top spot for a Master’s Institution in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index (earning top spots in Curriculum, Air & Climate, Investment & Finance; third in Research and fourth in Energy).
- First campus in the nation to be named an EPA Energy Star campus.
- Second campus in the nation to achieve climate neutrality in 2011.
- Contributed 60 resources in the Campus Sustainability Hub.
These accomplishments are remarkable but not surprising given the College’s mission built upon a framework of social, economic and environmental sustainability. You have been a pillar of sustainability innovation and the sustainable movement in higher education is stronger because of your contributions. The faculty, staff and students will carry with them the green and gold fabric and weave these threads into new communities as they have been taught to do, as alum have been doing already (including here at AASHE). While the campus doors will be closing later this year, the legacy of Green Mountain College will remain strong among the community it has built – a community that stretches far beyond Poultney, VT. Lux Fiat.