Politics & Government

ECU pushes back against report that chancellor Cecil Staton is resigning

ECU’s Cecil Staton is not a ‘status quo’ chancellor

Amid athletic controversies and libelous dossiers, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton has high hopes for turning ECU into the next great national university. Staton spoke with the editorial board at The News & Observer on Thursday February 8, 2018.
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Amid athletic controversies and libelous dossiers, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton has high hopes for turning ECU into the next great national university. Staton spoke with the editorial board at The News & Observer on Thursday February 8, 2018.

Confusion reigned Monday over the status of East Carolina University’s chancellor, who some reports said may be on his way out the door after fewer than three years on the job.

The Carolina Journal reported Monday that Cecil Staton, who became ECU’s chancellor in April 2016, plans to resign by Jan. 1.

However, representatives for both ECU and the UNC system told The News & Observer that Staton has not accepted any other job and that he remains employed by ECU.

“My focus will continue to be on serving ECU,” Staton said in a message passed on by two ECU spokespeople, Tom Eppes and Jeannine Hutson.

Kieran Shanahan, the chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees, said Monday he has no idea how the rumors started and that Staton is doing a good job.

“The board is pleased with him, the faculty and staff are pleased with him and the community at large is pleased with him,” Shanahan said.

Staton’s tenure so far has been a controversial one. He has been unpopular with some of the school’s football fans, who believe the athletics program is not living up to its potential, the News & Observer has previously reported.

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Staton, who makes a $450,000 annual salary, also ruffled feathers when the ECU Foundation bought a $1.3 million mansion to be the new home for the school’s chancellor after Staton was hired.

The mansion purchase did not sit well at the time with Harry Smith, an ECU grad on the UNC System’s Board of Governors, who became the board’s chairman earlier this year. In January he told the News & Observer that “I think you have to be careful about the messages you send, whether intentional or not.”

Reached Monday by The News & Observer, Smith said he had no comment on the rumors about Staton’s job.

“I can’t tell you anything,” Smith said.

Staton was a Republican politician in Georgia who left elected office in 2014 to take a job as an administrator in Georgia’s public university system. In 2016 he moved to ECU as the first major hire of Margaret Spellings, who had recently taken over as president of the UNC System.

Spellings announced late last month that she plans to resign next year. She will leave on March 1, her third anniversary leading the UNC system, and will be given more than half a million dollars when she steps down.

The Carolina Journal reported that Staton asked the ECU Board of Trustees for “a severance package greater than what Spellings got,” at a meeting last week, citing anonymous sources.

However, Shanahan said that is not true and he does not know why that would’ve been reported.

“The board did not consider it,” he said. “The story is inaccurate and Cecil continues to work tirelessly for the university, and with the blessing of the board.”

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