Campus historian preserves over 24 years of environmental management activities

Since Daniel Einstein started working at UW-Madison over 24 years ago, he has worked tirelessly to archive the history of environmental management activities on campus. As the current Historic and Cultural Resources Manager, he uses this knowledge to develop and implement new resource management policies on campus.

Einstein is well versed in campus history. His knowledge spans university buildings, campus art installations, and cultural landscapes, as well as archaeological sites such as effigy mounds,.

“There really are opportunities and roles for people that have a broad knowledge of the relationships of many different systems. Food systems, water systems, energy systems, waste systems—they are all ultimately integrated into the university experience,” says Einstein.

In 1991, Einstein’s own history with UW-Madison began when he co-instructed an environmental studies capstone that focused on food programs, water and energy conservation, and waste management. The course gave students an opportunity to gain experience solving real-life problems by working with professionals in Facilities Planning and Management. This environmental education case study, known as the Campus Ecology Research Project, served as the basis for his master’s thesis.

In 1993, Einstein graduated from UW-Madison with a master’s degree in land resources. He immediately began serving as the environmental management coordinator for the UW. Einstein was the first recycling and transportation alternative coordinator on campus. He helped lead environmental audits, encouraged campus newspapers to reduce publication runs, incorporated flex parking to incentivize less driving, and conducted research surveys to better engage students with sustainable behavior change.

In 2005, he became a co-program manager for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, where he oversaw a 300-acre natural area along the southern shore of Lake Mendota. During his five years in this position, he secured a grant from the Getty Foundation that launched a cultural survey of campus. It helped fund archaeological work that led to an interactive online map of campus cultural sites, including American Indian mounds and historical sites.

“This was the first attempt to take a comprehensive look at the spaces between buildings and document the designers of garden spaces, historic structures, and archeological sites,” says Einstein.

From the evolution of recycling practices to transportation changes, Einstein continues to share exciting stories about the history of environmental management as the historic and cultural resources manager on campus.


By: Trina La Susa