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Update: Staton says he did not initiate resignation

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Cecil Staton

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, March 18, 2019

ECU’s outgoing chancellor said he cannot discuss specifics about his resignation, citing a non disparagement agreement.

Cecil Staton announced today he was resigning from the university effective May 3. He said he would stay on until June 30 to advise UNC System President Bill Roper and ECU’s interim chancellor.

However, Steven Long, a Raleigh attorney and member of the UNC Board of Governors, said Roper asked Staton to resign “in an effort to end the long-running campaign of false accusations and irrational attacks by Harry Smith, the chairman of the UNC Board of Governors.”

When asked if Roper asked him to resign, Staton said, “We’ll get into semantics here and it’s sort of difficult. Let me simply say I did not initiate this.”

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ECU Chancellor Cecil P. Staton announced this morning he is resigning.

Staton, the university’s 11th chancellor, said he will step down effective May 3 but will remain on as an adviser to UNC System President Bill Roper and the interim chancellor through June 30.

“Catherine and I are very grateful for our time at ECU,” Staton said in a news release announcing his resignation. “We have enjoyed every moment working with our inspiring students and world-class faculty and staff. As we prepare for this transition in leadership, we remain committed to the idea we arrived with – ECU’s future is full of promise. There are no limits to what ECU can attain in service to the East, North Carolina, our nation, and our world and we look forward to following the progress of this great university in the years to come.”

Following is a news release issued this morning on the resignation.

Staton came to ECU in 2016 following a 27-year career in Georgia where he served as a faculty member and administrator at three different colleges and universities, as a state senator responsible for Georgia’s appropriations to higher education, as a university system senior administrator, and as an interim university president. He was former UNC President Margaret Spelling’s first chancellor hire. After a national search, he was elected chancellor on April 26, 2016.

Staton, a graduate of Furman University, holds the M.Div. with Languages and Master of Theology degrees from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford in England, and the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Mercer University in Georgia.

While at ECU, Staton led a complete rebranding effort to raise ECU’s national stature; launched the Rural Prosperity Initiative in partnership with SAS to improve health care, education, and economic disparities across rural North Carolina; and began a $500 million comprehensive campaign – the largest in university history – that has raised more than $213 million during the first two and a half years.

Through a new Strategic Plan extension, Capture Your Horizon, Staton led planning and investments that have improved student outcomes, increased financial aid, and grown ECU’s internationalization efforts, research activity and overall impact on Eastern North Carolina’s economy.

Staton provided leadership for numerous capital projects, including $70 million in residence hall renovations, a $60 million Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Southside renovation, opening a new $37 million student center on the health sciences campus in 2017, opening a new $122 million student union on the main campus in January 2019, and preparing for the construction of a new $8 million innovation hub for the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and a $95 million life sciences building, due to be completed in 2021.

During his tenure, retooling the athletics program was a key priority. “Pirates have great passion,” Staton said. “I am grateful that we have been able to press the reset button for Pirate athletics and prepare a foundation for future success. I am enormously grateful that Dave Hart accepted my invitation to serve as Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Athletics. Together we have completed successful searches for a new Athletic Director, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, and Head Football Coach, and we’ve committed significant university resources to support our proud athletic traditions. I am confident that ECU athletics are in a good place and that our best days are ahead.”

Commenting on Staton’s tenure and leadership, ECU Board of Trustees Chairman Kieran Shanahan said, “Cecil Staton has served ECU with distinction, dedication and an uncompromising commitment to excellence. His and Catherine’s departure is a tremendous loss for our great university.”

UNC System Interim President Bill Roper said, “ECU’s importance to this state and to Eastern North Carolina is immense and I’m grateful that Chancellor Staton answered the call to serve the Pirate community over the past three years. I’m confident he is leaving the university in good hands and with a bright future ahead as it continues to build on its success.”

Staton added, “I am grateful to have been at ECU and to have worked with wonderful students, an enormously dedicated faculty and staff, a terrific leadership team, and lots of Pirate alumni, friends and governance members who understand the importance of ECU to North Carolina. As I like to say, if North Carolina didn’t have ECU, it would have to go out and build it tomorrow. Catherine and I will always be proud Pirates!”

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