As secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Michael S. Regan worked closely with Gov. Roy Cooper (right) to formulate clean-energy policies for the state.

N.C. A&T alumnus Michael S. Regan ’98, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and a graduate of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, was confirmed March 10 as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The earth and environmental sciences graduate is the first Black man and first alumnus of a historically black college or university to lead the agency. The position holds Cabinet rank and required Senate approval, which was granted first in a 65-35 cloture vote and finally in a 66-34 vote by the full Senate.

“Michael Regan is the kind of person who can help us unite in common purpose” to solve the climate crisis, said Sen. Tom Carper, D-DE, during debate of Regan’s nomination on the Senate floor. Carper, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which approved Regan’s nomination and sent it to the full Senate, further said Regan’s record as secretary of DEQ is “a testament to his ability to bring people together and bridge the partisan divide.

Regan’s connection to N.C. A&T is highlighted in a Greensboro News & Record article, ‘A&T absolutely prepared me for this role’: New EPA chief is an Aggie.

During his tenure as North Carolina’s top environmental official, Regan, 44, led a landmark multi-billion dollar coal ash cleanup by Duke Energy. He also worked with a largely Republican General Assembly on such projects as extending the power grid to rural communities and rebuilding the state’s eastern agricultural operations in the wake of several devastating hurricanes. Under his leadership, the DEQ also levied a $13-million fine against Chemours Co. for allowing the chemical GenX into the Cape Fear River.

Regan spent almost a decade after graduating from N.C. A&T at the Environmental Protection Agency, first as a post-graduate intern and then as a full-time staffer, eventually serving as a national program manager responsible for designing programs aimed at reducing pollution and improving energy efficiency and air quality.

He credits A&T with helping him grow into a leader. “A&T absolutely prepared me for this role,” Regan said in a 2019 interview about his position as secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “It strengthened my understanding of who I am and what I can do for society.”

Expectations are high. As the nation’s top environmental official, Regan will inherit an agency that will be charged with enacting President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address issues of climate change, environmental racism and transitions to “green energy.”

Many of his goals in both positions were focused on air quality and renewable energy, including expanding the power grid to rural North Carolina communities.

Thanks to his professors and the curriculum of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Regan is well prepared. Regan spent much of his time in the college assisting Godfrey Uzochukwu, Ph.D., in setting up the Waste Management Institute, the university’s environmental sustainability waste management program.

“Michael was a leader with a big environmental vision, even as a student,” Uzochukwu said. “I depended on him to get many things done, and he was held to a high level of excellence in terms of ethics and leadership as well. I predict that he will do very well leading the EPA.”

CAES Associate Dean for Academic Studies Antoine Alston, Ph.D., knew Regan as a classmate.

“Two of Michael’s greatest attributes were his thirst for learning and his leadership acumen,” said Alston. “He was always interested in the latest developments in agricultural and environmental sciences, and he always served as a leader among his fellow students.

“Since his graduation from N.C. A&T, he has consistently supported the college and has been an advocate for us wherever he has worked throughout his career.”

Regan is married to Melvina Regan. The two met while undergrads at A&T. She serves as global talent acquisition operations manager for Hong Kong tech giant Lenovo, the U.S. headquarters for which are located in Morrisville, N.C., part of the state’s famed Research Triangle. The couple has a son, Matthew.