On Monday morning, East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton announced his resignation, effective May 3, after serving in the position for three years. As former UNC System President Margaret Spellings' first chancellor hire, Staton focused on athletics funding, residence hall renovations and construction projects throughout campus.
As the University's primary fundraiser, Staton launched a new branding and marketing campaign to increase awareness of ECU, which has raised over $200 million in 2.5 years, nearing its end goal of $500 million.
“We have enjoyed every moment working with our inspiring students and world-class faculty and staff," said Staton, referring to his wife in a system-wide press release. "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.”
Staton is one of many notable figures within the UNC system to resign in recent months, alongside former UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, Vice Chancellor Winston Crisp and UNC System President Margaret Spellings. The chancellor position at Western Carolina University is still vacant following the 2017 resignation of the late David Belcher.
The administrative turnover has led to criticism of both the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, most notably in a petition released in early March garnering over 1,500 signatures which asked both boards to be reformed.
Although ECU has not announced an immediate replacement, UNC System Interim President Bill Roper said Staton is "leaving the University in good hands." Many of Staton's priorities were completed during his tenure, most recently the $122 million student union which opened in January and the $60 million Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium renovation for the 2019 football season.
“Pirates have great passion,” Staton said in the release. “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.”
Staton will remain on staff until June 30 to advise Roper and the interim chancellor, who has yet to be announced.