I came across a great piece from Auden Schendler at Grist talking about the Sierra Magazine rankings. He puts the value of sustainability for colleges in a blunt but truthful way:
"And the reason I’m pissed [His alma mater wasn't on the list either] is that it seems to me that even if you didn’t care one little tiny bit about climate or environment—if all you cared about was endowment, physical plant, and US News ranking—as an undergraduate institution you’d create a killer Enviornmental Studies program with a climate focus simply to recruit students and make money as a business.
Why? Because people are banging down the doors, almost literally, to study the interface between climate, politics and business so they can be part of the great challenge of our lives. And schools that train people well in that field will not only do well as both businesses and schools, they will also meet the needs of their students."
So, moral and ethical reasons aside (although they should matter to a university, especially a Jesuit one with a global focus), we have here a strictly practical and image-based reason to emphasize sustainability. Money and image are essential to any large-scale institution (keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak).
Your global reputation should have to do with how you help the globe, no?
Photo taken from Flickr.