News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of March 8, 2010

Staff Spotlight

Graphic designer brings 
a bit of Alaska to U-M

Dave Brenner is a self-proclaimed carnivore. A native to Fairbanks, Alaska, Brenner is used to eating all kinds of meat. “I was raised eating moose, caribou, bear, salmon and halibut,” he says.

In fact, everything about the outdoors appeals to Brenner. His parents, originally from Onaway, Mich., traveled to Alaska to go hunting in 1965. “They never left,” Brenner says. He spent his childhood in the woods camping, and still is “having a hard time getting used to actually paying for a camping spot (in Michigan).”

Photo by Austin Thomason, U-M Photo Services.

After graduating from the University of Alaska with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Arts in theater, Brenner moved to New York City to pursue a career in the arts. Eventually, he returned to Alaska to work as a graphic designer for the University of Alaska Sea Grant Program.

In 2000 Brenner made the move to Michigan. He started as a graphic designer for the Michigan Sea Grant Program, and now is the senior Web administrator and graphic designer for the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“My colleagues share my appreciation for the outdoors,” Brenner says. “They get excited when I tell them that my parents FedEx’d a cooler full of moose and halibut (to me).”

Brenner’s job also allows him to indulge in his passion for photography. “I have opportunities to go in the field,” he says. “Some of the adventures include flying over Kodiak Island in Alaska photographing Stellar sea lions or taking a 3,600-meter dive to the bottom of the ocean in the ALVIN submersible.”

Outside of his job, Brenner spends his time with his wife Shelley and 4-year-old identical twin daughters. “I met my wife while we were both working for U-M,” he says. “We share an interest in international travel, and were fortunate to visit Costa Rica last November.”

In addition, Brenner enjoys playing and watching ice hockey. “Go Blue! Except when they play Alaska, of course,” he jokes. He also is interested in social media, and is “involved in several social media groups within the U-M communications network.”

But not a day goes by that Brenner doesn’t think about his home state. “I miss the Alaskan mountains and the large clear skies where you can see for hundreds of miles,” he says. One thing he doesn’t miss? “The weather during January and February,” he says. “Temperatures are regularly 40-below zero.”

He may be far away from Alaska, but Michigan quickly has become his new home, and the university had a helping hand. “I’m very fortunate to have a job that allows me to constantly be creative and get outdoors,” he says.

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at



Dave Brenner, Web administrator and graphic designer, School of Natural Resources and Environment, on what he misses about Alaska: “…the large clear skies where you can see for hundreds of miles.”