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Jan. 31, 2017

2017 Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership

Vennie Gore, vice president
Office of the Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises

Vennie Gore epitomizes MSU’s charge that “it’s not just what we do, but why and how we do it that distinguishes us as Spartans.”

Upon joining Michigan State University, Gore leveraged his singular leadership and management prowess, expertise in residential and hospitality services and commitment to collaboration to envision unconventional approaches toward enhancing student success.

Recognizing that residential life could contribute to enhancing the student experience beyond just beds and meals, Gore began working with his colleagues in academic and student affairs on a bold idea to centralize resources that support all aspects of student life in the residence halls — the Neighborhoods and their engagement centers. The Neighborhoods are designed to be multicultural environments that give every student admitted to MSU an equal opportunity to graduate. The key is connectivity. The Neighborhoods are the epitome of connectivity, with administrative, educational, service and programmatic entities integrated close to several small groupings of residence halls. The Neighborhoods have earned national recognition for enabling student improvement in persistence, retention and academic success. The Wall Street Journal credits MSU’s strategy of weaving the university into students’ lives, including the Neighborhoods and engagement centers, as key to MSU’s ranking of number one for student engagement among public institutions (number six for all institutions).

Implementing the Neighborhood concept was only the beginning of Gore’s plan. Numerous examples —from welcoming students at Spartan Move-in to fostering exchanges of ideas through the creative design of on-campus Starbucks —illustrate how Gore’s contributions are manifested in the ideas, behaviors, and actions of his colleagues in auxiliary enterprises and throughout MSU. In his signature style, Gore credits his colleagues and team for every accomplishment. And the accomplishments never stop. By creating and championing a vision; fostering a workplace of respect, inclusion and partnership; developing, supporting and empowering people; and fervently focusing on continual improvement and innovation, thousands of auxiliary enterprises staff advance MSU’s mission and deliver outstanding Spartan experiences for students, faculty, staff and guests every day.

Gore’s career includes abundant university, community and professional service, including president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International and a board member of the Capital Area United Way.

A servant leader, Gore’s impact is rooted in every interaction with colleagues, students and the community. His approach to leadership and partnership between operations and academics is a model for MSU.