Friday, June 23, 2023
  Around Campus

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JUNE 23, 2023 – UTRGV has received another distinction for collegiate sustainability, this time with a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainable Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS).

AASHE STARS is an international rating system for sustainability. STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS is intended to engage and recognize the full spectrum of higher education institutions, from community colleges to research universities.

The framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability.

Jeremy San Miguel, program coordinator in the UTRGV Office of Sustainability, prepares and spearheads the report as part of a rigorous process done every three years.

UTRGV received a gold ranking in 2017 and silver in its inception year of 2015.

utrgv office for sustainability
Banana plants framing the community garden on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

The report requires data from every office and department at UTRGV to complete an extensive checklist that audits the sustainable measures of each department in the university.

The nearly 200-page document reports on metrics to measure the sustainability components of UTRGV’s various departments.

The report requires extra communication and meticulous examination of university policy as it pertains to sustainable practices, San Miguel said.

The report was submitted in January, and after intensive review, the rating was communicated in mid-May.

UTRGV Chief Sustainability Officer Marinaella Franklin said the university is incredibly proud to be recognized again as a national leader in sustainability.

utrgv office for sustainability
A UTRGV off-campus sustainability garden in Edinburg, just after planting for its fall crops. (UTRGV Archive Photo by David Pike)

“This is UTRGV’s second gold rating from AASHE STARS,” she said, “which is one of the most rigorous systems in higher education for sustainability. This level of success represents another important milestone for UTRGV. It reflects on the dedication and commitment of so many students, staff and faculty who all take pride in advocating and institutionalizing sustainability across disciplines and departments, as well as within our communities at large.”

Every department in the university contributed to this gold ranking, Franklin said.

“As the institute grows, there is more investment to sustainable practice, which pays off in terms of long-term investments. This will help position UTRGV for the prestigious platinum level when we report again in 2026.”

San Miguel said the ranking reflects on the UTRGV community’s commitment to sustainability.

“All of us gave a duty to promote quality of life,” he said. “Every major division and department contributes to sustainable development on UTRGV’s campuses.”

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the AASHE gold ranking is a testament to the commitment of everyone at UTRGV.

“Every department has a role in making this campus sustainable, and I can’t tell you how extraordinary it is to see everyone come together to contribute to this report,” he said. “We thank everyone who helped the UTRGV Office of Sustainability compile this report, and I look forward to our continued sustainable practices.”                                                                               

To read about more designations in sustainability at UTRGV, visit:


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.