Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 78.07
Liaison Linsey Edmunds
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

Keene State College
PA-3: Inclusive and Participatory Governance

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 3.00 Cary Gaunt
Director of Campus Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have formal participatory or shared governance bodies through which the following stakeholders can regularly participate in the governance of the institution?:
Yes or No
Students Yes
Academic staff Yes
Non-academic staff Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal participatory or shared governance bodies:

Please see "Additional documentation to support the submission" for much more detailed information about sustainability governance and coordination at Keene State College. A summary follows.
Keene State College (KSC) prides itself on participatory and shared governance and there are many representative bodies by which students, faculty, and staff participate in policy, planning, and other decision-making for the College. KSC's governance is primarily independent from, but also part of, the University System of New Hampshire. Therefore, when considering KSC's highest governing body, it is necessary to consider the USNH Board of Trustees, the KSC Presidential Cabinet, and the KSC Senate.
Sustainability planning happens at multiple levels within this framework:
• USNH Board of Trustees: Not engaged in day-to-day sustainability planning, but reviews and approves large-scale capital projects.
• KSC President’s Cabinet: Reviews and approves sustainability initiatives affecting the whole campus when new financial resources or investments are required (e.g., capital improvements, new staffing). The Cabinet is not engaged in day-to-day sustainability, but the Director of Campus Sustainability dual-reports to the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Vice President of Finance and Administration.
• KSC Senate: All new academic programming changes, such as new majors, minors, certificate programs, and courses must be approved by the Senate. The Sustainability Collegewide Learning Outcome was approved by the Senate.
• Office of Campus Sustainability: As a designated autonomous department within KSC, the Director of Campus Sustainability has authority for new initiatives and day-to-day decision making about sustainability, unless the initiatives require new investment outside of the department budget, are a new academic program requiring Senate approval, or would benefit from the President’s endorsement.
• President’s Council for a Sustainable Future (PCSF): This group provides the stakeholder voice for sustainability at Keene State College. The PCSF identifies initiatives and promotes and tracks practices that reinforce a culture of sustainability at Keene State College. The Council also serves as a critical advisory group and advocacy arm of the Office of Sustainability in setting priorities and promoting sustainability and climate action initiatives.
An example of how sustainability planning works within this framework will illustrate how sustainability planning and action infuses multiple levels of the College. The process is dynamic and inclusive rather than static and set in a single plan.
During academic year 2017 to 2018, the Office of Sustainability and the PCSF conducted extensive research (called the Green Keene planning process) on sustainability and climate action priorities for KSC. Office of Sustainability staff conducted the bulk of the research, but the PCSF reviewed all results. Furthermore, the PCSF actively engaged in a campus-wide qualitative assessment of campus practices and desires related to sustainability. Using focus groups, interviews, and a survey of students, the PCSF and Office of Sustainability identified top priorities of the College community—faculty, staff, students, and administrative leaders were consulted. These results were compared to benchmarking research of KSC’s comparator and regional schools, AASHE STARS, and local, regional, and global science recommendations.
Using these data, the PCSF and Office of Sustainability developed a suite of sustainability and climate action goals for the College using a consensus-based iterative process. Draft goals were vetted with student groups and individuals/departments included in the Green Keene project.
Once in a form approved by the PCSF, the Office of Sustainability developed an Executive Briefing proposing the sustainability and climate action goals and a proposed implementation strategy. The Executive Briefing represents KSC’s high-level Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. This plan was presented to the President and her Cabinet for approval, which was received in 2018. A separate high-level Sustainability and Climate Action Plan for Academics was presented to the Provost at the same time.
One approved implementation strategy from these two plans was that KSC pursue an RFP for a guaranteed sustainability and energy services contract (SESCO). Because this RFP called for a whole-campus energy transformation requiring substantial potential capital investment, the USNH Board of Trustees engages in reviewing and approving stated RFP language and capital projects over $500,000 emerging from the SESCO.
Additional information on the respective governance and coordination roles of KSC’s sustainability governing bodies is provided below and in the detailed description included in "Additional documentation to support the submission".
As one of four institutions comprising the University System of New Hampshire (USNH), the College is governed by the USNH Board of Trustees (BOT). KSC's President reports to the chair of the BOT.
The BOT is comprised of 29-members including the Governor of the State, the President of the State Senate, the Speaker of the House, 10 members appointed by the Governor and Executive Council, 7 alumni-elected members, 2 student-elected members, the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the presidents of the University System's four colleges and universities, and the Chancellor. The Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University System.
In addition to the two student-elected members to the BOT, students are represented through the University System Student Board (USSB). The stated Mission of the USSB is to " empower the student voice in New Hampshire," through the purpose of: "advis[ing] the Board of Trustees and each of its committees on all topics and matters of interest to the students of any or all of the component institutions of USNH." As reported on the USNH USSB website, since its start in 1999, the USSB has evolved over the years to best represent students from all four-member institutions. The USSB now consists of 2 members from each institution, representing both undergraduate and graduate students. The USSB serves in addition to the two Student Trustees who are formal members of the Board of Trustees (See: https://www.usnh.edu/trustees/university-system-student-board-ussb).
USSB members liaise with Student Government and other Student governance bodies (See: https://www.keene.edu/life/si/programs/student-organizations/listing/).
Although part of the University System of New Hampshire, Keene State College, like the other three institutions within the USNH, operates independently from USNH in most matters. This is certainly true for sustainability-related actions. USNH approval is required for large capital improvements, review and release of large RFPs for procurement of different services, and some collaborative purchases, such as office supplies and IT resources that are part of the College and University Cost Containment Collaborative (CUCCC). For most sustainability initiatives KSC operates autonomously through its highest governing bodies: the President’s office, Cabinet, and College Senate. The Office of Campus Sustainability, with the President’s Council for a Sustainable Future, leads efforts independently from these bodies, as well.
Institutional independence from the BOT is recognized in New Hampshire law (NH Rev Stat § 187-A:16 (2017)), which states in part, “It is the intent of the general court that the trustees, when exercising their responsibilities under this chapter, recognize and foster the unique character and educational mission of each institution of the system. To this end, the institutions are to be permitted to operate with the highest measure of autonomy and self-governance, subject to the supervision of the board of trustees.”
Given this clear directive for each institution within the USNH to have "autonomy and self-governance," KSC operates primarily through its own highest governing bodies.
Please see "Additional documentation to support the submission" for much more detailed information about sustainability governance and coordination at Keene State College.

Total number of individuals on the institution’s highest governing body:

Number of students representing their peers as official members of the institution’s highest governing body:

Number of academic staff representing their peers as official members of the institution’s highest governing body:

Number of non-academic staff representing their peers as official members of the institution’s highest governing body:

Number of women serving as official members of the institution’s highest governing body:

Percentage of official members of the highest governing body that are women:

Website URL where information about the institution’s highest governing body may be found:
Does the institution host or support one or more formal bodies through which external stakeholders have a regular voice in institutional decisions that affect them?:

A brief description of the campus-community council or equivalent body that gives external stakeholders a regular voice in institutional decisions that affect them:

Three examples of the way Keene State College engages community members include:
1) Keene Alumni Association: http://www.keene.edu/alumni/association/: This group of alums informally participates in setting College directions and governance approaches primarily through topical committees. They are a governance advisory group.
2) College-City Commission: Group of College and City leaders that meet monthly to discuss issues of mutual importance and make decisions. This group arose from a difficult time in City of Keene and Keene State College relations. The Commission actively engages City and College leaders in decision-making processes that result in strategic plans that are used to set College policies. See:https://ci.keene.nh.us/college-city-commission. The meetings have been suspended during Covid as the President of KSC is working on a broader response with City Government and Cheshire Medical Center on the area's pandemic response (See: https://www.keene.edu/news/stories/detail/keene-state-president-melinda-treadwell-honored-by-new-hampshire-business-review/).
3) Keene Endowment Association: Makes decisions regarding how the Endowment is invested, including the decision to develop a socially just and environmentally sustainable investing option. The Association is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in 1957 to accept gifts for the College for investment or accrual, to empower educational excellence. The Board of Directors collaborates with College administration to ensure the alignment of KEA and College purposes. See more at: https://www.keene.edu/development/kea/

Number of people from underrepresented groups serving as official members of the institution’s highest governing body.:

Website URL where information about the institution’s governance structure is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

In considering "the institution’s highest governing body" in PARTS 2 and 3 of this section, Keene State College needs to include three different governing bodies to authentically represent decision-making for the College: (1) the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, (2) the KSC Presidential Cabinet, and (3) the KSC Senate. Our rationale for doing so is described in these notes. Focusing on just the USNH Board of Trustees does not adequately represent how sustainability decision-making occurs at KSC as the notes in this section describe.
KSC is part of the University System of New Hampshire; as such, the USNH Board of Trustees represents "institution’s highest governing body" in one respect. As stated in the USNH Charter, the USNH and its Board are responsible for "ensuring that its components, each having a unique character and educational mission, operate as a well-coordinated system of public higher education." (Section 187-A:2-a of the University System Charter). This is key. Each College or University within USNH is unique and therefore operates with a great deal of autonomy. Day-to-day decisions, and most of the decisions related to sustainability, are made at the campus level, independently from USNH. However, as described in Part 1, for large capital projects and RFPs, as well as for some coordinated purchasing, decisions are made by the USNH Board.
The two highest decision-making bodies for the KSC Campus are the President's Cabinet and the College Senate.

Membership of the Board of Trustees and the KSC Cabinet and Senate are described in Part 1. Here is the breakdown of demographic information required for Parts 2 and 3:
Total membership:29 members
Women members:5 (17%)
Student members: 2 student-elected members
Academic staff members: None
Non-academic staff members: five (the USNH Chancellor and the College President's from each institution comprising USNH)
Total membership:8
Women members:6 (75%)
Student members: None
Academic staff members: One
Non-academic staff members:7
Total membership:29
Women members:13 (45%)
Student members:4
Academic staff members:22
Non-academic staff members:3

This section was originally compiled by Dr. Cary Gaunt, Director of Campus Sustainability and thoroughly reviewed and updated by Kim Schmidl-Gagne, Program Manager for Academic Affairs.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.