Saluki Spotlight – Pete Renz – Donor-Teacher-Public Safety professional

Meet Peter Renz, ’97, who majored in Fire Science Management through SIU’s extended campus’ program, now known as Public Safety Management. Renz received his SIU degree at the off-campus location of Quinn Fire Academy with the Chicago Fire Department. He also earned a master’s degree in Non-Profit Administration from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. Peter is a retired fighter from South Holland, Illinois, with a career that spanned 27 years working as an Engineer/Paramedic.

Renz currently works as an instructor, recruiter and as an advisor for the SIU’s Public Safety Management program. He is currently teaching public safety management, research, and risk reduction.

Renz says he receives great satisfaction in working with people from the first handshake all the way to their graduation from the program.

“It is very satisfying to see a student that you first met at a recruiting event or through word of mouth, and then to see them graduate and to see how happy their families are at graduation. After graduation, you can see the gratitude they have for us helping them succeed with a bachelor’s degree or their master’s degree,” said Renz.

Renz credits the SIU Extended Campus Program for allowing him to get his bachelor’s degree and appreciates the help he received from his classmates.

“If it wasn’t for this program, I would not have gone to college. The flexibility of this program allows a student to be successful. I also liked the comradery in the classrooms. Everyone was helping others if they were struggling. I especially enjoyed the labor relations, grant writing, and legal and budget courses,” he said.

Renz says that the courses he took during his time as a student in the SIU Extended Campus Public Safety Management allowed him to apply what he learned directly to his career.

“The labor relations course that I took in college helped me start our firefighter’s union, Local 4109 in South Holland. When I served as a school board president, I was able to negotiate one of the more difficult bargaining sessions, which I also learned from that course. Everyone involved was grateful at the ease of which the contract was hashed out. The grant writing course SIU offered me helped in an innovative way to give raises and fund special projects at the fire department,” said Renz.

Renz says one of the aspects of the extended campus program he enjoys most is that he gets to interact with students all over the country.

“I get to interact with students from a geographically wide range of locations. You quickly realize that every fire department shares many of the same issues from coast to coast,” he said.

Renz also enjoys the variety of his work and his interactions with a wide range of people.

“Depending on where I am on any given day, I may be meeting with the Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department, or the over 5000 members of the department, to the newest candidates at the academies. I also meet with the union leaders, officers, engineers and firefighters of many departments in the Chicago region,” said Renz.

Renz credits his wife for his success throughout his career.

“My wife, Lori and I were going to college at the same time. She would push me from time to time. She is the smartest person I know. I also learned from others around me that taught me how to do something and how not to do something. You can learn from others’ mistakes,” he said.

As a donor to the SIU Public Safety Management department, Renz gives back because he believes the program has developed him into someone that can make a difference.

“Being a Saluki has taught me to look out for others and to help where I can. You know, I’ve often wished that if I had a $1,000 to give to the program, I would like to start a lending library of public safety management textbooks. We have some students that struggle when it comes to the cost of books. I try to offer alternatives. A $1,000 would be a nice start. My hope is that others will help me give back to such a wonderful SIU program as the SIU Extended Campus,” he said.

To learn how you can donate to SIU Extended Campus, click here.

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