UW-Whitewater Sustainability

The Salisbury Idea

Albert Salisbury statue


The Salisbury Idea is a project intended to realize the vision of former Whitewater Normal School President Albert Salisbury to plant every kind of tree, shrub, and forb that will grow in our climate on the school grounds. The current project scales down this ambitious vision to locating and identifying every tree species native to Wisconsin on the UW-Whitewater campus and if it does not exist, embark on a tree planting campaign to ensure this representation exists somewhere on the main campus property. 

This project also recognizes the contribution of Joseph J. Chopp, a former Biology professor that was instrumental in preserving the historic arboretum areas and other campus beautification efforts. The project will honor the history and legacy of these men for which the two historic arboretums are named after, but also recognize other key contributors throughout our campus history that worked to beautify our campus grounds.

150 Years 1868-2010 Inspire. Engage. TransformThrough this project, we intend to achieve the following goals, established to celebrate the University's Sesquicentennial in 2018:

  • INSPIRE greater academic integration and exploration of nature with our campus grounds as a "living laboratory" while celebrating our campus origins and history.
  • ENGAGE a variety of academic and administrative departments, student organizations, campus committees, and community groups in tree planting efforts.
  • TRANSFORM our two historic arboretums into interactive gathering spaces that are supportive to local wildlife.

This project would also make Whitewater a role model for environmental biodiversity throughout the state,  contribute to the campus's natural beauty, offer a peaceful space for the entire community to enjoy, and provide opportunities for student learning and engagement.

About the Salisbury and Chopp Arboretums

The historic arboretums cover the glacial drumlin that forms the core of the UW-W Whitewater campus, which was once the extent of the Whitewater Normal School grounds.  Salisbury Arboretum was originally established by Albert Salisbury in 1873.  Salisbury recognized the biodiversity and existence of rare plants on the grounds and established the arboretum as a change in policy from the annual burning of leaves and brush that occurred in the early years of Whitewater Normal School.  The original footprint was 5.2 acres and Salisbury reportedly planted about 350 species of trees that would grow in our climate and started a campaign to "eliminate shrubbery."  Part of the original arboretum was removed with Salisbury's residence when the additions to Andersen Library were constructed.  The current extent includes trees to the east and west of Andersen Library up to the original Old Main circle driveway.

Chopp Arboretum wa dedicated in November 1975 and encompoassed 7.6 acres and 310 trees at the time of its establishment.  Joseph Chopp specifically said that "wooded areas" on campus should be preserved, which is reflected in the development projections of the most recent Master Plan.  The goal of Chopp Arboretum was to "beautify the campus and include new plantings" to continue the concept established by President Salisbury.  Chopp Arboretum includes all trees west of the original Old Main circle driveway up to Lot 1 and stretches north along the glacial drumlin to the Little Red Schoolhouse.  Chopp Arboretum also encompasses the Alumni Center, Observatory, and Halverson Log Cabin.

In 2019, UW-Whitewater was recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation and received Level II accrediation by ArbNet, the Interactive Community of Arboreta.

Tree Campus USAArbNet Accredited Arboretum Level 2

Interpretive Sign and Self-Guided Story Map

A interpretive sign about the history and link to a self-guided digital tour or Story Map will be located in the heart of Salisbury Arboretum.  This collection of specimen trees is primarily situated in the historic arboretums on the original Normal School grounds, which stretches back along the glacial drumlin that runs through the center of campus.  History and stories from the Salisbury Era of Whitewater Normal School and of the Old Main building will continue to be added as additional content in the Story Map.

Guided Tours

The Sustainability Office offers periodic tours of the original Normal School Grounds as part of the ongoing summer Campus Garden and Landscape Tours series.  In 2019, the first tours were offered that integrated historical aspects of this space through a photo display showing various perspectives of the Normal School Grounds and Old Main building over time.  The photos from this tour can be viewed below and guided tours for campus or community groups can be arranged by contacting the Sustainability Office. All images were generously provided by the UW-Whitewater Archives & Area Research Center.

Normal School Landscape Tour

Tree Inventory

Through a partnership with the UW-Whitewater  Geography, Geology and Environmental Science Department, we created a tree inventory by mapping locations for over 1,700 trees on campus with notes on species, condition, and diameter at breast height (DBH is used to estimate age).  Facilities Planning and Management staff will use this tool to monitor tree health and maintain tree canopy through a planned tree replacement program.  Denser areas of trees are not currently mapped.  

Tree Planting

If you or your department, organization, or volunteer group are interested in planting trees on campus, please contact us with details so we can facilitate arrangements with the FP&M Grounds Crew.

Salisbury Idea Historical Contributors

Through ongoing contact and campus partnerships, we plan to highlight the accomplishments of the various individuals that have made notable contributions to our campus landscape.  There are a great number of historical documents available that we will continue to synthesize into biographical accounts of their efforts.  As these feature articles are completed, they will be listed below with direct links to read more.   If you are a student studying History and are seeking an internship or student research project, please contact us to learn more about becoming a contributor.

  • Albert Salisbury, President of Whitewater Normal School
  • Joseph J. Chopp, Professor of Biology at Wisconsin State University-Whitewater
  • W.B. "Billy" Reider, Chief Engineer, Landscape Gardener, and "Trouble Man" at Whitewater Normal School