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Oct. 29, 2013

MSU names director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center

With 20 years of experience in higher education and the nonprofit sector, Renee Zientek has been named the new director of Michigan State University’s Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement.

She replaces Karen McKnight Casey, who retired in June.

Prior to arriving at MSU, Zientek was the senior director of civic engagement and fund advancement for the Michigan Nonprofit Association. She is also the former executive director of Michigan Campus Compact, and will now be MSU’s liaison to the group.

“Serving as the executive director of the Michigan Campus Compact gave me the opportunity to work with some of the finest colleges and universities in our great state and across the nation,” Zientek said. “MSU is always referred to as the exemplar of the engaged campus among its peer institutions and by a large network of community partners. Joining MSU, a campus with one of the longest operating service learning and civic engagement centers, has been a professional aspiration of mine throughout my career. I am excited and honored to be working with this outstanding group of colleagues and partners.”

At University of Michigan-Flint, Zientek served as assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement; executive director of university outreach; and director of the Office of Service Learning and School Partnerships.

Also in Flint, she served as the president of the Flint River Corridor Alliance’s board of directors and Zientek sat on the Shelter of Flint’s board of directors.

“We set high standards for ourselves as a premier land-grant institution, and that includes a proud heritage as the oldest continuously operating service-learning center in the country,” said Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for university outreach and engagement. “Renee has a long list of contributions in student civic engagement and community collaborations. I am confident she will be a strong and capable leader for a unit that links 21,000 MSU students with more than 400 community partners, thereby breathing the experience of community into their academic education and more fully preparing them to be productive citizens in a democratic society.”

Zientek earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan-Flint and her master’s degree in American Cultural Studies from the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School.

“Renee has a vast understanding of the significance of experiential learning for enhancing student knowledge and engagement,” said Denise Maybank, vice president for student affairs and services. “She is well suited to administer a program that provides opportunities for students to select options that bring them to a deepened understanding of the democratic purposes of civic life, while also helping them link academic accomplishments with personal and professional engagement and development. Her leadership will position MSU as an innovator for 21st-century service learning and civic engagement.”

Founded in 1968, MSU’s CSLCE is the oldest continuously operating student-volunteer program in the nation. During 2012-2013, the CSLCE served close to 21,000 MSU students and worked with more than 400 community partners for student placements.

By: Kristen Parker