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The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher
Education announced on Sun., Oct. 9, that Cedar Valley had won the AASHE
Campus Sustainability Achievement Award. Separately, the American
Association of Community Colleges announced that the college had
received the Green Genome Award in the community engagement category.
Dr. Maria Boccalandro, director of the Sustainable Communities
Institute at Cedar Valley, said the award from AASHE is particularly
significant because the college was competing against more than 1,000
two- and four-year institutions, including universities that often have
dedicated research groups and more funding. Cedar Valley, she said, won
the Achievement Award based on the college’s comprehensive approach to
"All schools in the Dallas County Community College District have
four strategic goals," Boccalandro said. "We added a fifth:
sustainability. We embedded sustainability in all other goals: student
and employee success; institutional effectiveness; and community
"Our vision is sustainability in practice. We have very concrete
practices on campus to become more sustainable. Those practices include
quality of life, social justice, efficient buildings and stewardship of
our natural environment," Boccalandro added.
Boccalandro stated that the college created various sustainability
initiatives, including the Green Cord Program, which focuses on
embedding sustainability practices throughout the entire curricula –
approximately 200 green courses to date. The faculty-led program
certifies instructors as "green," and students who take three "green"
courses get a green cord when they graduate.
"I am delighted to see such distinguished and hard-working
sustainability leaders recognized as AASHE Sustainability Award
winners," said Meghan Fay Zahniser, AASHE’s executive director. "They
are truly pioneering the campus sustainability movement, and their
achievements represent big wins for our community."
In addition, the college offers the Living Lab Initiatives, a program
led by the American Association of Community Colleges and the
Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center. Under this
initiative, the Sustainable Communities Institute at Cedar Valley works
with faculty and facilities to look for areas where the campus can
Cedar Valley was one of nine colleges that won the Green Genome Award
in the community engagement category from AACC, which focuses on
economic development within communities. Boccalandro said AACC saw that
the college went beyond the curricula and Living Lab Initiatives by
involving the region, including southern Dallas and northern Ellis
Boccalandro said Cedar Valley and its community partners are actively
involved in figuring out how to improve the quality of life in that
area and how to prepare people for jobs, particularly in green careers.
"We started talking about sustainable development in the region,"
Boccalandro stated. "And we considered what types of jobs we can
leverage in the area to preserve and enhance the environment as well as
how to improve clean air and water now and in the future.
"The beauty of sustainability is that everybody can participate,
whether you’re two years old or 100 years old; whether you have a
doctorate or you’re a kindergarten student," said Boccalandro. "It’s
about being better stewards of the resources we have."
Boccalandro said sustainability has been a college-wide goal: "We
have strong leadership and clear, strategic goals that focus exclusively
Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, who became president of Cedar Valley in
September, applauded the institution’s sustainability efforts and the
awards the school received.
"As the new president of Cedar Valley College, I am highly impressed
that sustainability has been institutionalized through the vision and
leadership displayed over the past several years," Seabrooks said.
"These national awards recognize the strong commitment by our campus to a
sustainable future and doing the right thing for our students and
community. It means the world to us."
Boccalandro said the next phase for the school will be to make
"sustainability sustainable" and to make Cedar Valley a "net zero"
For more information about Cedar Valley’s sustainability projects, send an email to Boccalandro at firstname.lastname@example.org.