“Chancellor Renick held a strong commitment to student success while positioning the campus to be more responsive to the cultural, social, economic and intellectual issues of southeast Michigan,” Grasso said.
Humanities Professor Deborah Smith Pollard, an internationally renowned researcher on the origins and evolution of Gospel music, said Renick’s time on campus profoundly impacted her career. She said his support of Black artists — sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, poet Nikki Giovanni, artist Jacob Lawrence and novelist Margaret Walker came to campus — and inclusive practices lifted the UM-Dearborn community up and provided an environment where people could thrive.
After I applied to be an assistant professor of English and Humanities and then was offered the position here at University of Michigan-Dearborn (in 1995), a friend of mine told me not to take the job because she did not think it would be a safe city to work in for someone who looks like me," Smith Pollard said. "Well, things have worked out fairly well for this full professor in part because an African American chancellor was in charge when I came in, and he had several things in place that made me feel welcomed and seen."
As well-connected as Renick was — even President Bill Clinton made a stop on campus while Renick was here — his family shared another side of the chancellor with people gathered at the celebration: the polished professional let loose a bit when it came to his grandsons. He took them golfing and “spoiled them,” said Peggy Renick.
As a tribute video played, grandson Kruz laid his head on his dad’s shoulder. Daughter Karinda Renick took photos of Kasch — who said he misses his “Chacho” — next to her father’s engraved image, which is prominently displayed in the Renick UC hall.
At the conclusion of the naming ceremony, Peggy Renick gave hugs and thanks to people in attendance who she hasn’t seen in years, including Smith Pollard, Custodian Vanessa Maxwell, Renick’s former Administrative Assistant Adele Henry and retired Athletics and Recreation Director Peggy Foss.
"Dr. Renick was one of a kind. He made a difference in the campus atmosphere,” Foss said in video-recorded comments. “Knowing him, he would have been very humbled. It’s well deserved. I’m so excited that this is happening for him.”