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Renee Knake Jefferson was appointed to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in 2019 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As a trustee, Renee has been a champion for change at Michigan State, demanding a new policy to evaluate presidential performance and working with other trustees and the president to replace most of the executive-level administrators from the police chief to the provost. She is a strong supporter of organized labor, and voted with her Democratic colleagues to streamline the process for employees to form new unions. She is an advocate for affordable, accessible, and inclusive education.


Renee is a mom, ethics professor, and lawyer. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Renee worked in private practice and as an assistant city attorney in Charlottesville, Virginia. A Fulbright recipient and elected member of the American Law Institute, she is an author of four books and numerous scholarly articles on legal and judicial ethics. She chose Michigan to raise her children, moving to the state in 2005 and joining the Michigan State University College of Law faculty the following year where she taught for a decade. Renee is married to Wallace B. Jefferson, who is an alumnus of the James Madison College at Michigan State and the first African American Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. Her stepson Samuel Jefferson also is a graduate. Her children James and Grace learned to walk at Spartan Marching Band practices and now attend East Lansing public schools.

Paid for by the Committee to Keep

Renee Knake Jefferson

MSU Trustee

PO Box 1525, East Lansing, MI 48826