Coming in with 17 years of experience as a senior staffer in the Michigan legislature, trustee Dennis Denno began his eight-year term in, what he called, the “legislative arm of Michigan State University” on Jan. 1, 2023.
Denno said the Board of Trustees is the only position he has ever wanted to run for. With experience in politics, communications, polling and research, he said his diverse set of skills will allow him to ask the right questions as a trustee.
“Michigan State has a huge impact on our Mid-Michigan community,” Denno said. “Michigan State also has a footprint in every county in the state of Michigan. We are a significant economic driver in the state, and I wanted to do my part to make Michigan State the best it can be.”
One goal Denno campaigned on was raising the minimum wage for all MSU employees to $15 an hour. He said this is still one of his top commitments to bring before the board. He also hopes to use his connections with the state legislature to secure state funding for the university.
“We have some great projects in front of the Michigan legislature and I hope to use my knowledge of the legislature and my connections in downtown Lansing to help Michigan State with some state funding,” Denno said.
The new board is set to begin the search for MSU’s next permanent president this spring, a responsibility Denno said he is optimistic about.
“That's gonna be the most important thing this Board of Trustees does,” Denno said. “I'm optimistic that we're going to get that right. I'm optimistic that we're going to have a new chair of the MSU Board of Trustees. We do have two new trustees. I think Sandy Pierce's resume is incredible, and I look forward to working with her and with all the other members of the board.”
Denno graduated from MSU in 1992 from James Madison College. He was active in the Arab Student Organization and met his wife in a class they took together. He said he was drawn to MSU for its diversity of programs.
Beyond a degree, Denno said being a Spartan has taught him about leadership and inspired him to give back to the community.
“I developed lifelong friendships with people I had met at Michigan State University,” Denno said. “Being a Spartan has taught me about leadership, about when you get knocked down, you pick yourself back up. That it's important to give back to the community. I mean, that's what Spartans do.”
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