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Board of Trustees candidates endorsed at Michigan Democratic Party convention

April 11, 2022

Members of the Democratic Party gathered in Detroit at the Michigan Democratic Party Spring Endorsement Convention on April 9, 2022.

MSU Board of Trustees candidates were endorsed at the Michigan Democratic Party’s endorsement convention on April 9. The two candidates selected to appear on the ballot were incumbent Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson and researcher Dennis Denno.

At the end of a long agenda filled with endorsements for the Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Supreme Court and Board of Education, the university board candidates strutted onstage to walkout music. 

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“I’m excited, I’m honored, I’m humbled,” Denno said. “It’s just a great opportunity. A lot of work to do at Michigan State and I hope I’m fortunate enough to get elected and get to work.”

Denno was introduced by his friend, MSU Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment emeritus James Cotter. 

“I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of each and every person in this room,” Denno said during his speech. “I just want to say one thing: if I am lucky and I am fortunate enough to be elected to the MSU Board of Trustees, I hope to make each and every person in this room proud of me and proud of Michigan State University.”

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Trustee Rema Vassar introduced Jefferson, who is running to keep her seat on the board. The women have served on the board of trustees together for just over a year, since Vassar’s term began in January 2021. 

“Trustee Jefferson intentionally cultivated a sense of belonging for me,” Vassar said. “After long debriefs after meetings on her back porch, we realized that we're kindred spirits, and we’re ideologically aligned … our work is not yet done. I need her on the board. You need her on the board.”

Jefferson said it was exciting to receive an endorsement from the party in person, along with the other candidates running in this year’s election, and said she appreciated Vassar’s support. 

“I think that it says a lot if someone is to say they want to keep working with you for another eight years,” Jefferson said. “The fact that Trustee Vassar was there to help support my nomination just shows how we work together collaboratively, and we have each other's backs, and sometimes it even means getting up on stage and quite literally supporting each other she did for me today with the nominations.”

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