Sterling College ranks #23 out of 202 institutions

Sterling College has been committed to reshaping humanity’s relationship with the natural world through the liberal arts for nearly a half century. Sierra magazine again recognized Sterling by including the college in the top 11% of its “America’s Coolest Schools” list, a ranking of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities.

Sierra, the official publication of the Sierra Club, released its tenth annual “Cool Schools” ranking on September 6 of America’s most environmentally-minded colleges and universities. Sterling College finished with a score of 659.48 out of a possible 1000 points, placing it at the #23 slot, out of 202 colleges and universities, up 48 spots from last year.

“Being stewards of the environment is not new to Sterling; we were among the very first colleges to link our curriculum to concepts such as ecology, outdoor education, and sustainable agriculture,” said President Matthew Derr. “We were advocating for sustainability in the 1970s, and we continue to do so today. Our campus is a living system that supports our community and our educational mission, and we are the leading voice for environmental stewardship in higher education.”

Besides earning a top 25 place among the greenest schools in the nation, Sterling College is also the highest-ranked Work College on the “Cool Schools” list. There are currently eight federally-recognized Work Colleges in the United States, where all students, regardless of financial aid, must work on campus; Sterling College is the only Work College in the northeast.

Sterling College scored highly on endowment investments, curriculum, innovations, and food. This year, Sierra magazine asked colleges and universities to answer questions on divestment; Sterling College was the first college in Vermont, and the third in the nation, to divest its endowment from fossil fuels, in 2013.

The list was released just one week after the beginning of classes for new students. This year, Sterling College has the largest total student body in its history—136 students.

Sterling first appeared on the “Cool Schools” list in 2010. In 2012, the methodology changed, and became based on the extensive questionnaire through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

“A lot of hard work from all across campus made this ranking possible,” Derr said. “We have no special office, no Director of Sustainability, no isolation of our sustainability effort, because we expect every person in our community to push for more sustainable and ecologically sensitive choices. We don’t rest on our laurels, no matter how green they might be.”


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