During his early years as a college student, Clint-Michael Reneau found his place in the world. He credits a supportive student affairs professional who reminded him of his worth, value — and that he mattered.
“As a gay student with a disability, my undergraduate education was not easy for me. I was told by a math professor and chair of the department that I would never graduate with a degree. I was told college was not for me,” relayed Reneau, a Cal State Fullerton associate vice president for student affairs.
“If it wasn’t for her, I’m not certain I would be here. I’m not talking about the role I am in today, I’m talking about this planet. Her ability to truly see me changed everything — and it’s what got me into this field.”
As the student affairs leader who oversees student identity and belonging, Reneau strives to be the educator who makes sure students not only graduate with a college degree, but are fully supported academically and emotionally along their higher education journey.
“Educators have the ability to recalibrate our lens so we can see gaps in representation, rhetoric and policy. We can recalibrate the lens to operate from the guiding principle of the assertion of human dignity,” he said.
For his outstanding work in student affairs, Reneau is the recipient of the 2020 AVP/Senior-Level Student Affairs Professional Award from NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. This national award honors a student affairs professional at the AVP or senior-level whose outstanding commitment to the profession includes developing programs that address the needs of students, and creating a campus environment that promotes student learning and development.
I’m forever grateful for those giants in this field who came before me, modeling the way, and who continue allowing me to stand on their shoulders. — Clint-Michael Reneau
“To be nationally recognized is remarkable. I also know this award is not just mine; it’s because of the collective village that has poured into me and shown me how to lead from love, integrity and grace,” Reneau said. “As Maya Angelou said, ‘I come as one, but stand as 10,000.’ I’m forever grateful for those giants in this field who came before me, modeling the way, and who continue allowing me to stand on their shoulders.”
Reneau came to Cal State Fullerton in the summer of 2017 after serving as director of disability services, Title IX investigator and student conduct specialist at Texas State University in San Marcos, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate.
In his leadership role, he views himself as a mentor and as someone who challenges students to reimagine themselves and break through boundaries to reach their potential.
“I want to help students recognize and expand their own agency and help them to lean into their existence as their truest, most authentic self — and share their story with others, which is a revolutionary act,” he said. “My role, along with everyone who works in higher education, is to support students to the very fullest in setting powerful goals towards graduation and doing all that we can to remove barriers that impede success, while helping them get across the finish line with their college degree in hand.”
Reneau’s work in student affairs is a continual journey of intention, education and action. He is guided by innovation to support student success during instructional disruption, address basic needs and insecurities of impacted students, and plan for the financial and operational impact of the COVID–19 crisis, all while utilizing an equity and inclusion lens to guide and drive his work.
“As educators, what we know is this: The common denominator in the human experience is validation. All people, the world over, just want to be seen, to be heard and to know what they say matters.”
Contact: Debra Cano Ramos, email@example.com