Dec. 6, 2019 — University of Houston Law Center Professor Renee Knake was appointed Wednesday by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to fill a vacancy on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.
Knake, professor of law and the Joanne and Larry Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics, taught at the MSU College of Law for a decade prior to joining the Law Center faculty in 2016. She will serve on the MSU board until December 2022.
“I am honored that Governor Whitmer appointed me to serve in this role,” said Knake who is also director of Outcomes and Assessments at the Law Center and a member of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equality Committee.
Knake, who earned her J.D. at the University of Chicago Law School, teaches Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility, and a seminar on Gender, Law, Leadership at the Law Center. She was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, a position she held from January-July 2019. She also is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and chair-elect of the American Association of Law Schools Section on Professional Responsibility. Her book “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court,” will be published May 2020.
In announcing the appointment, Whitmer said Knake will ensure that MSU “embodies a culture that respects diversity, values and listens to all survivors, and makes college education more affordable and accessible for Michigan families. I’m confident that Renee’s professional background and unique skillset is what Michigan State University needs right now.”
The university is recovering from a sex abuse scandal involving a gymnastics team doctor that resulted in criminal charges, top level resignations, a federal fine of $4.5 million for failing to report and address the abuse claims, and a $500 million civil settlement with abused young women.
In October 2018, Knake testified before a Federal Judicial Conference Committee in Washington, D.C., to advocate for reforms to rules regarding sexual harassment and other misconduct. “No one should have to endure sexual harassment as a rite of passage in the legal profession," Knake said to the committee members. “We must appreciate why a victim may feel compelled to remain silent, and consider options that reduce adverse consequences to sounding an alarm. We should put in place enforceable rules that will promote a culture free of sexual harassment in addition to a process for uncovering prior bad conduct.”
“I will rely upon my expertise in legal ethics and gender equality to work with MSU board members and the administration to help the university improve accountability, transparency, and due process for all,” Knake said.
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