Staff members at Mason have a very unique and interesting perspective at Mason. They are typically responsible for keeping the wheels turning smoothly to ensure that the rest of the community (faculty and students) can accomplish all they set out to do. Due to their supportive roles, staff members typically share a particular degree of investment and stake in bringing Mason to its highest potential. The staff members below have initiated holistic, lasting change for a greener Mason.
It all began with water. Well, at least that was the case for Dan Waxman. This start is surprisingly fitting, when one learns about Dan's career. Raised near the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, it's hardly shocking that Dan Waxman's early years working with the environment were solidly devoted to water quality issues. Even at a young age, Dan was acutely aware of the importance of preserving the environment around him. As he put it, he recognized that that the natural environment was inescapable and needed to be maintained. It's comprised of “the air we breathe, the water we drink, it's all around us. It's where we live, work, and play. It impacts us every day.”
In his high school days, as the president and vice-president of his school's environmental group, Dan organized cleanups and food drives for cats and dogs at his local animal shelter. However, what really caught Dan's interest was his work with water quality. In one of his first internships, Dan worked with Cape River Watch. With them, he developed a benthic macroinvertebrates monitoring program and designed signage work for a stormwater best management practices park. Experiences like these led Dan to continue with work relating to stormwater management in college. While at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) he was a water quality technician at the Department of Environment, Health, and Safety.
As Dan spent more time completing his Environmental Studies degree at UNC, his activities and interests expanded. He became involved with student affairs, where he was involved with student government where he served as the first Chair of Environmental Issues. After graduating from UNC armed with significant knowledge about the complexities of environmental science and policy, Dan received a Nonprofit Management Certificate from Duke University Continuing Studies.
He later applied and was accepted to graduate school in the Master of Public Administration program at Mason. Dan started working at Mason at the Arlington Campus in University Life. Dan later started working with Mark Kraner in University Services (now called Auxiliary Services) to develop and initiate sustainability projects. The projects began in the areas of Dining and Print Services. These initiatives began in 2008, eventually expanded to 10 areas in 2009, and hit 11 areas in 2010.
By 2010, Dan morphed these sustainability projects into a more cohesive program entitled Auxiliary Enterprises AE Green. Through this program, Dan was able to streamline Auxiliary Enterprises' sustainability efforts and communicate a consistent message. As of 2011, AE Green has expanded into areas of Auxiliary Enterprises, which comprises of entities such as Mason Banking, Patriot Center, Child Development Center, and Mason Vending. In just one year, AE Green tackled over 100 projects.
To help assist with projects in AE Green, support has been received from Green Works!, Coca-Cola, The Office of Diversity Programs and Services, and Water Management, Inc. Many university offices have also collaborated with AE Green on projects and efforts to help enable projects to be successful including the Office of Sustainability, University Life, Office of Student Involvement, Office of Diversity Programs and Services, Facilities Administration, Facilities Management, Alumni Affairs, and University Relations.
Unsurprisingly, Dan has no plans to slow down. He is currently finalizing the AE Green 2011 report which is scheduled for release in Jan/Feb 2012. He is also actively involved in leading AE sustainability initiatives and AE Green communications. He is also actively involved with many campus sustainability initiatives.
At Mason, Dan has spent his time finding creative ways to turn his passion for the environment into a message that has gotten the Mason community to share his passion. When asked “what actions the community at Mason could take to have a positive impact on the environment?”, Dan commented, “It's all about daily impact. While recycling is important, is taking thinking beyond recycling. If you are printing, think about printing double-sided or printing 2 to 4 pages on each sheet of paper. You can even print nine PowerPoint slides to a page. One can use reusable beverage containers, such as Nalgenes. Finally, one can take part in campus service projects. Small impacts can make a large impact. By doing these small efforts you can make a difference and reduce your environmental footprint. Furthermore, you're leading by example, bettering our planet, and saving money.”
When asked about where he saw himself in the future, Dan replied that while his interest in water still remains, he has become increasingly interested in higher education. In fact, Dan was recently accepted into the doctoral program for education at Mason, and intends to specialize in higher education. As such, Dan hopes to eventually work as a senior administrator at a university that embraces sustainability. As he noted, “College is a great time for identity development. Universities are training the future of many fields while students still are in college. Having an impact is very real; you're creating the next set of environmental leaders who will impact our nation. It's important to educate them about sustainability for our generation and future generations.”