Cody Teets, best-known for rising through the ranks at McDonald’s
— from cashier in 1982 to vice president of franchise relations by 2015 — was just named interim president of Regis University.
Teets, who graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Regis in 1998, will take the reins on January 1
from Father John Fitzgibbons, a Jesuit priest who's been the university’s president for the past decade. Fitzgibbons announced his resignation
on November 17.
“For the last eight years, between being on the board and being an affiliate professor, I've really been able to meet the Regis faculty, the cabinet and many of the Regis students,” says Teets, who became a trustee in 2013 and an affiliate professor in the MBA program in 2018. “I feel like I'm part of the fiber of the university before this opportunity even became available.”
Teets will be the first woman to serve as president; Regis has previously been led by Jesuit priests. She describes her appointment as an "honor," and praises the increased diversity at other Jesuit schools led by women.
Before she left McDonald’s in 2017 to head her own consulting business, Teets led the Global Women's Leadership Network, and she hopes to continue being a role model at Regis. "It is important that female leaders show the way for others aspiring to positions of influence and decision-making," she says.
Another skill Teets will bring from her days at McDonald’s: identifying where people want to go and helping them get there. “I've been able to build trust and loyalty with the people I've had the opportunity to work with," she notes, "so I think that's one thing that I can bring to Regis, as I know they're always looking for great faculty, more students and to leverage off what the cabinet and Father Fitzgibbons have already created."
To start building that trust, Teets wants to visit classrooms, department meetings and campus events to learn what students and faculty members would like to see improved at Regis. “I've always been a person who believes you must be present to win, which means you need to be visible,” she says.
Teets also wants to make the university’s strategic plan visible to the Regis community. Communicating goals to everyone rather than reserving them for those in top positions helps create buy-in and gets better results, she explains; she hopes those results will build on what she already sees as a strong foundation.
Regis is "in a space that a lot of colleges find themselves in right now, where they'd like enrollment to be higher. However, they're very strong financially,” Teets says. “Whenever I would go work somewhere, my goal would be to make it better than where it was left. That's not to say where it's left is bad.... I think they're in a good position, but I'll always try to make it stronger.”
With Teets in place as interim president, the Regis University Board of Trustees says it plans to launch an “exhaustive search
” for the next permanent president.