Published on January 13th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


Top 50 Green American Schools, As Stanford Faculty Calls For Fossil Fuel Divestment

January 13th, 2015 by  

Online Schools Center has released its list of Top 50 Green Schools, a list that highlights those colleges and universities throughout the United States that rank highly across a number of ‘green’ categories.

The list provides prospective students the opportunity to make an informed decision about the school they are choosing. However, this list doesn’t rely on just one form of ranking — rather, the Online Schools Center list forms a composite ranking from:

  • Inclusion in a recent Princeton Review “green” schools list, especially in the last two years of their Honor Roll
  • Inclusion in the list
  • Inclusion in a recent Sierra Club list
  • Inclusion in a recent U.S. News’ Eco-friendly Campuses list
  • A recent rating of gold or silver from’s STARS list
  • Current or pending green initiatives

Interestingly, the Top 50 Green Schools list comes at the same time as approximately 300 Stanford University professors signed a letter to Stanford president John Hennessy and the board of Trustees, calling on the university to divest their fossil fuel investments.

Stanford University, which ranks very highly in the Top 50 Green Schools list, already divested itself from its coal investments in May of 2014, but the 300 faculty signed on the letter expressed their desire to see “the remaining 35%” of the university’s fossil fuel investments — which includes oil and gas holdings representing 978 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide — dropped from their portfolio.

Of the 50 institutions ranked, 27 states and the District of Columbus were represented. The top 5 states represented (in terms of number of in-state schools) were:

  1. New York – 10 schools
  2. California – 9 schools
  3. Pennsylvania – 5 schools
  4. Colorado – 4 schools
  5. Illinois – 4 schools

And these schools (shown in full below) each offer a variety of ways in which they contribute towards being ‘green’. These include sustainability, clean-energy, solar power, recycling, and landscape management, plus many more, as well as programs for students who are interested in conservation and sustainability, and hands-on efforts in and around the campus and local community.

Stanford’s Call for Divestment

“We the undersigned, faculty of Stanford University, acknowledge the urgency of the scientific community’s warning that the burning of fossil fuels puts our world at risk. To prevent wide­spread ecological and ice­sheet collapse we must limit global warming to 2 degrees,” wrote the Stanford faculty in their letter. They then went on to quote Professor James Engell of Harvard, in support of their call:

The fossil­ fuel companies are decent investments only under two assumptions: first, the oil and gas and coal they own in the ground shall be sold and burned. Second, they shall continue to find more oil and gas and coal and shall sell that to be burned, too. Any investor in them must want this to happen, and any investor is putting up money to make this happen with all deliberate speed.

Stanford’s faculty make a compelling case, and one that will be ignored at the University’s own peril.

“If a university seeks to educate extraordinary youth so they may achieve the brightest possible future, what does it mean for that university simultaneously to invest in the destruction of that future?”

The Top 50 Schools

The full list of schools, ranked from 50 to 1, are below:

50.  Syracuse UniversitySyracuse, New York

49.  Bentley University – Waltham, Massachusetts

48.  University of Central OklahomaEdmond, Oklahoma

47.  University of Missouri – Columbia, Missouri

46.  University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota

45.  University of Colorado at BoulderBoulder, Colorado

44.  Ithaca CollegeIthaca, New York

43.  University of Wisconsin – Stevens PointStevens Point, Wisconsin

42.  Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, Pennsylvania

41.  University of California – Los AngelesLos Angeles, California

40.  Pomona CollegeClaremont, California

39.  University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania

38.  Quinnipiac UniversityHamden, Connecticut

37.  The Catholic University of AmericaWashington, D.C.

36.  The City University of New YorkNew York City, New York

35.  University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

34.  University at Buffalo, SUNY – Buffalo, New York

33.  University of Tennessee – KnoxvilleKnoxville, Tennessee

32.  University of UtahSalt Lake City, Utah

31.  Northwestern UniversityEvanston and Chicago, Illinois

30.  Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, Oklahoma

29.  Georgetown UniversityWashington, D.C.

28.  University of Oklahoma – Norman, OK

27.  Iowa State UniversityAmes, Iowa

26.  College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor) – Bar Harbor, Maine

25.  University of California – Santa CruzSanta Cruz, California

24.  Colgate UniversityHamilton, New York

23.  California State University – ChicoChico, California

22.  Middlebury CollegeMiddlebury, Vermont

21.  University of Colorado at Colorado SpringsColorado Springs, Colorado

20.  State University of New YorkStony Brook University – Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

19.  University of VermontBurlington, Vermont

18.  Colorado State UniversityFort Collins, Colorado

17.  Santa Clara UniversitySanta Clara, California

16.  Harvard College/Harvard UniversityCambridge, Massachusetts

15.  University of New Hampshire – Durham, New Hampshire

14.  Portland State UniversityPortland, Oregon

13.  University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign-Urbana, Illinois

12.  Columbia UniversityManhattan, New York

11.  University of Washington at SeattleSeattle, Washington

10.  Cornell UniversityIthaca, New York

9.    Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlanta, Georgia

8.    Green Mountain CollegePoultney, Vermont

7.    Stanford UniversityStanford, California

6.    Lewis and Clark CollegePortland, Oregon

5.    University of California at IrvineIrvine, California

4.    University of Massachusetts – AmherstAmherst, Massachusetts

3.    University of California – Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara, California

2.    Dickinson CollegeCarlisle, Pennsylvania

1.    American UniversityWashington, D.C.


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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

  • JamesWimberley

    This is a clever line to take. Universities and colleges compete intensely for good students, on dimensions wider than SAT scores. Deans are sensitive to rankings that are likely to have an effect on applications from desirable students. Set that against the marginal and uncertain financial benefit of sticking with fossil investments, and the decision does not look close.

  • Marion Meads

    What surprised me is that the University of California, Davis did not make the list! Well, they have a big staff housing condominium village that has net zero energy usage, aside from the various solar panels all over the other buildings of the campus.

    • Ross

      Perhaps they bought the solar panels with dividends from Fossil Fuel companies.

      • Marion Meads

        Shell donated about $500 M money to the UC System, spear headed by UC Davis.

        • Offgridman

          It is kind of ironic that there are people and towns in Africa that had to fight Shell for years in the courts to get a pittance of this amount for homes, food, and water supplies destroyed by oil spills that Shell admitted were its fault.

    • Marion Meads

      I would also like to add that 99.9% of the students in the UC Davis campus are actively using their bikes. What could be greener than this?

      • Offgridman

        With more than 4100 public and private colleges/universities in the US right now being part of this top fifty list makes you part of a very elite group. For example approximately less than one in eighty-two made it.
        The qualifications for making the list are cited in the article, so once again you are just going to have to do a little research on your own to find out why UC Davis didn’t make it. Perhaps they are number 51, or maybe number 510, or 2510.
        Being in California it is probably pretty easy for UC Davis to get its basic green credibility just by following state initiatives and policies, the ones on the list most likely those that have really gone above and beyond with their efforts.

        • jeffhre

          Two years ago the Sierra Club had Davis as # one. A year ago I think they may have fallen to #5 according to the same metrics.

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