Getting to know Todd Regis, new chair of the CMU Board of Trustees
A passion for CMU despite a degree from CMU’s biggest rival
The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees elected Todd Regis to lead the university’s governing body on Nov. 30, 2023. Regis replaces outgoing chair, Trustee Isiah Oliver.
Regis is the Recorder and Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. He previously served as commissioner of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and he has served on several other state commissions, including the Michigan Food Policy Council and Michigan Food Security Council.
Regis earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Western Michigan University. He lives in Brownstown Township with his wife Sandy and has four children and a grandson.
To become better acquainted with Regis, CMU News asked him more about himself, his experiences and his new role as board chair.
Q: What excites you most about what you’ve learned about CMU and our community since being appointed a CMU Trustee in February of 2023?
Being on campus and seeing just what a community it is. Not only for higher education, but the community’s got so many things that it represents.
It is great to see the students. If you talk to the students, they are all excited about their next years and what they will do beyond. I think the students that choose Central choose it for the many positive things that it has. It's wonderful to see the activities and the passion of the faculty and administrators for what they do.
We know CMU is one of the better values in higher education in Michigan. But it's not only a better value, it's got to be one of the better experiences.
Q: What are your experiences with higher education, and those of your family. How do they influence your approach to the role of chairperson of the CMU Board of Trustees?
I'm a first-generation college graduate, and so for me education was very important. I knew the value of higher ed and that's what I wanted to do.
I am the oldest of five children and I felt that part of that role was to lead and set the example. It's very important to the next generation of my family, which has multiple degrees already. Ultimately, it's now an expectation because I think the value of higher education is so important.
As a trustee, I think it's important that we continue to try to offer one of the better priced bargains for higher education, but also to offer the availability. Giving someone the opportunity to go to school is so important.
I am a strong believer that the next generation and the one after that are going to have to have some sort of education beyond 12th grade to be successful in the future and in their lives.
Q: What experiences from your professional life do you bring into your role as chair of the Board?
I do a lot of legislative work and I certainly have been able to have a lot of conversations with elected officials on both sides of the aisle. I'm a firm believer that you can't just talk to one side. You’ve got to talk to both sides because that's how you get things done.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with your colleagues on the Board of Trustees and the staff at CMU?
Oh, the diversity of the board. I appreciate that there are seven other opinions. Everybody's willing to express their opinion, and respectfully express it even when there's a difference of opinion.
And I believe even when we have disagreements inside the room, when we walk out of that room, we are united. I sincerely appreciate that, because we may have different ways of going about it, but we all have ways to get to what we want to do.
Now as far as the staff, I have yet to meet a staff person who doesn't have the passion for Central, the passion for helping the students and the passion for doing the right things. They have knowledge. I don't care who it is, you can ask anybody a question and they're going to give you an answer and they're going to help you out. They'll take the time, and I don't care where it is.
Q: You earned your bachelor’s degree from WMU and are now in an important governing role for CMU. Did you ever imagine you would be serving your alma mater’s rival?
No, no, I did not. And by the way, when I was talked to about appointments, I asked them if they actually read my application and if they really saw I went to Western Michigan and not Central Michigan. I just wanted to make sure.
WMU is my alma mater, but CMU is my responsibility and I have no problem being very vocal about that. People ask who I cheer for, and I say it's pretty obvious I'm going to cheer where my responsibilities are — and I have no problem saying that. I look forward to the 2024 Central-Western football game. We’ve got to win back the trophy that's currently sitting in Kalamazoo. I think it's our turn to get it back.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the CMU community to know about Todd Regis?
I am looking forward to watching Central grow, increase the student population and continue to provide a valuable education for everybody. And for anyone that's got a child of high school age, I think they really should be spending time looking at the opportunities at Central. I look forward to the opportunity to brag about it, to talk about it and, quite honestly, to learn more about it.
Todd Regis will preside over his first formal session of the CMU Board of Trustees as chair on Feb. 6. His term as a CMU Trustee extends through Dec. 31, 2030.