From University News:
For the sixth year in a row, SIERRA magazine is releasing its annual ranking of the nation’s “Coolest Schools,” and this year Appalachian State University has moved into the No. 10 spot.
The rankings salute U.S. colleges that are helping solve climate problems and making significant efforts to operate sustainably.
This is the third year Appalachian’s focus on sustainability has been recognized by the magazine, but the first year the university has been listed as a Top 10 school. Appalachian first participated in the magazine’s “Coolest Schools” survey in 2010. ...
SIERRA magazine’s “Coolest Schools” ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. In March 2011, Sierra sent a 12-page questionnaire to 940 schools, a list based on the widest collection of university contacts that the magazine’s researchers could amass; schools that requested a survey were provided one and encouraged to participate. SIERRA received 118 complete responses from schools, which the magazine’s researchers scored and ranked. There was no cost for participation, but schools that did not respond were not included in the ranking.
I would get absolutely killed with a 13% survey response rate.
From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Since Sierra has had problems with collecting information and presenting a sensible methodology in the past, the magazine now relies on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System, a collection of sustainability data supported by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
This year, the top five are (in order) the University of California at Davis, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Washington, and the University of Connecticut. UC-Davis was 16th in the 2010 Cool Schools list, Georgia Tech was 18th, and UConn was 49th. (Stanford and Washington were in the top five that year and in 2011, too.)
The methodology probably changes more than the colleges. But anyone in higher education’s sustainability circles would find the “complete list” of participating colleges fairly incomplete. Where is the University of Vermont? Where is American University, which earned a gold rating in the Stars rating system? Where’s the University of Colorado at Boulder, which topped the list only a few years ago?
It’s very likely that they didn’t participate, as the numbers of colleges have been going down year after year. Sierra’s complete list tallied 162 colleges two years ago and 118 last year. Only 96 are listed this year.