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Meet Dr. Rema Vassar, MSU Board of Trustees first Black woman chairperson

Posted at 1:45 PM, Jan 18, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Dr. Rema Vassar did not attend Michigan State University, but she's no stranger to East Lansing.

"My mom and I actually lived on this campus as a small, small child," she said.

Vassar has a long list of educational experience stemming from her English degree from Western Michigan University and PhD in education from UCLA. She has taught at every level and has traveled to over 30 countries expanding her view of the educational system.

"I think about how teach what we teach, what we teach, and I really very concerned about education," she said.

Her passion for education made her a great candidate for the MSU Board of Trustees that has had some issues in the past.

"With my experience, having this vantage point of what happens in schools, I can understand better why we have the outcomes that we had, which are great and terrible," Vassar said.

Vassar previously held a position teaching leadership courses at Wayne State University, but the idea of helping students at higher level made her pursue this seat.

"The appeal was you get to make decisions that give opportunities to folks at a policy level," she said.

When we asked her what were the main issues she wants to address as a chairperson, she replied "trust, transparency and I would think transformative leadership."

She continued by saying she wants to work towards inclusiveness of all groups attending the university.

"I need to figure out the ways that we make it pay off for everyone the way that it should," she said.

Vassar is confident in her ability to bring change and new perspective as a Black woman to MSU.

"I am the embodiment of the potential for Michigan and for the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," she said.

She said she wants to inspire people who are just like her to work for change and to make a difference.

"I'm just a small, Midwestern, small town girl and now the first Black woman chair for Michigan State," Vassar said.

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