Former UM-Dearborn chancellor James Renick was a leader who noticed when people went above and beyond. Renick, who served as chancellor from January 1993 through July 1999, died Jan. 3 at the age of 72.

James Renick
James Renick

“Jim was a hard worker and paid attention to detail,” said Adele Henry, retired UM-Dearborn executive assistant who worked with Renick. “He liked when other people did the same, and Jim made sure to take the time to recognize the work they did.”

For example, he would notice when the grounds looked meticulous and occasionally stop the lawn-mowing employees to thank them personally for a job well done and then send pizza to the grounds crew as an added thanks.

She said Renick was a strong leader for the UM-Dearborn community.

“He did great things for campus. He had a great compassion for students. He was both focused and very personable,” said Henry, whom Renick called by her last name like teammates do. “I enjoyed working for him.”

During his tenure at UM-Dearborn, Renick focused on making the university more interactive by positioning the campus to be more responsive to educational, cultural, economic and intellectual issues and needs of the region; building on the university’s strong commitment to students; solidifying external support; and expanding the use of information technology to enhance teaching and learning.

The campus also experienced major growth while Renick led campus, including an increase in enrollment and the completion of the university’s first capital campaign. Renick oversaw the planning and construction of buildings like the Heinz C. Prechter Engineering Complex.

“We have lost an influential and valued member of our UM-Dearborn community,” Chancellor Domenico Grasso said. “Susan and I, along with our university community, express our deepest and most sincere condolences to the Renick family.”

Renick left UM-Dearborn in 1999 to become president of North Carolina A&T State University, a position in which he served until 2006. He went on to become vice president at the American Council on Education and later senior adviser to the president and provost at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Henry said she attended Renick’s inauguration ceremony at North Carolina A&T State University. Even after Renick moved away, she said he returned to campus when he was in the area.

“On one visit, I was at my desk and when I looked up there was this tall figure who said, ‘Getting any work done, Henry?’ It was Jim,” she said. “I was happy to see him. Even though years had gone by, Jim took time to come back to campus and see us. He was a wonderful man who will be missed.”

Submitted by UM-Dearborn Communications

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