Arthur Emmett Ellis was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September 14, 1932, the son of Antoinette Ellis. He graduated from Jackson High School in Jackson, Michigan, in 1950, and from Jackson Junior College in 1953. Ellis earned a B.A. in Economics from Michigan State University in 1953 and a M.A. in Higher Education from Eastern Michigan University in 1969.
After serving in the U.S. Army, 1953-1956, Ellis worked for Walker Manufacturing Company in Jackson, 1958-1962. From 1962 to 1968 he worked for the State Legislature, namely the Legislative Audit Commission, 1962-1963, and the Legislative Fiscal Agency, 1963-1968. Ellis served as the first Staff Director of the agency.
His career then moved into the field of education. From 1968 to 1970 Ellis served as the Executive Director of Governmental Relations and University Budgets at Eastern Michigan University. Beginning in August 1970, he served as Vice President for Public Affairs at Central Michigan University (CMU). Ellis was appointed as Interim President after President Harold Abel resigned in 1985. Ellis became the ninth President of CMU in 1986.
During his two years as President of CMU, Ellis turned a $1.9 million university deficit into a modest surplus. Student enrollment increased at CMU, and the campus entered a new period of physical growth with the ground breaking of the new IET (Industrial Engineering and Technology) Building, and plans for several other facilities including science, music, and student recreation were begun.
President Ellis retired in 1988.
Michigan Governor John Engler appointed Ellis to serve as the Director of the Michigan Department of Commerce and, later, as Superintendent of Public Instruction of the Michigan Department of Education.
Ellis and his wife, Sibyl Marie, have three children: Mark Robert, Marcia Lynn, and Marian. (This information is from the collection and the CMU Office of the President website.)