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November 29, 2001 - Aquinas College is among a group of colleges and universities nationwide recognized as environmental leaders in the National Wildlife Federation's (NWF) report entitled State of the Campus Environment: A National Report Card on Environmental Performance and Sustainability in Higher Education. Aquinas was one of 891 institutions participating in the report that was conducted to identify areas where colleges and universities exceed and where they need improvement on environmental performance.

Aquinas received top standing in two categories. The category "Leading Schools Doing More with Goals and Written Policies for the Environment" acknowledges schools that have established a plan that includes environmental action. Those institutions also created a declaration of commitment along with written documents stating their academic mission towards environmental responsibility. The second category, "Leading Schools for Employers Environmental Administrators and Coordinators," recognizes the schools that have been aggressive in hiring people who deal with environmental issues.

Aquinas is an original member of the Economicology Institutions, a national group of colleges and universities collaborating with the Wege Foundation to address environmental and ecological issues both on campus and in the broader community. As such, it was also part of the pilot group involved in this research.

"We are all quite pleased with this recognition of our environmental stewardship," said Dr. Harry Knopke, Aquinas President. "An institutional commitment to the environment has long been a fundamental part of the ethic of the College and is reflected in our teaching and service programs, as well as our administrative processes."

On a national scale, colleges and universities, overall, received an "A" in Water Efficiency Upgrades; an "A-" in Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Renewable Energy; a "B-" in Landscaping; a "C+" in Environmental Lessons in the Classroom; and, a "C-" in Transportation. The grades were determined by the percentage of schools participating in that activity from among 891 surveys received. An "A" was given when over 60 percent of the schools participated in a particular environmental category.

"A surprising number of colleges and universities, of all types and sizes and in all regions of the country, are taking a lead role in striking a balance between the needs of people and the environment," said Julian Keniry, manager of NWF's Campus Ecology program. "The best campuses in this survey are providing a green compass for others to follow."

The National Wildlife Federation is committed to using these findings as part of its ongoing effort to enhance the contributions of colleges and universities in addressing the environmental challenges facing the world.

"The National Wildlife Federation is interested not only in helping colleges and universities reduce their toll on the environment, but also in providing students with practical lessons and tools they need to implement positive change when they leave the campus," said Mark Van Putten, president and CEO of NWF.