Dr. Cecil P. Staton has enjoyed a 30 plus year career as a publisher, faculty member, university administrator, state senator, university system vice chancellor, university president and chancellor, and entrepreneur. He has been recognized for his integrity, commitment to servant leadership, and his ability to make a positive difference in complex organizations. Recently, Dr. Staton returned to give guidance to Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc. as President and CEO. Staton served as the founding President, CEO, and Publisher for more than thirteen years earlier in his career. He has served on the Board of Directors since its founding in 1990. Smyth & Helwys is known for its Sunday School curriculum resources that support biblical literacy as well as the multi-volume Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary.
Dr. Staton previously served as President and CEO of AAHOA, leading the world’s largest hotel owners association based in Atlanta and Washington, DC, throughout the COVID pandemic. Through best-in-class daily communications, educational offerings reaching more than 70,000 unique users, numerous in person and virtual events, and impactful lobbying at the federal and state levels, Staton guided AAHOA members and their 60,000 owned hotels through their most challenging industry crisis ever.
Earlier, following a national search and nomination by UNC President Margaret Spellings, Staton served as the 11th Chancellor of East Carolina University in North Carolina. At ECU Staton launched the largest capital campaign in the institution’s history as well as the Rural Prosperity Initiative, dedicating the resources of ECU to address healthcare, education, and economic disparities. He provided leadership for more than $400 million dollars in capital improvements across campus during his tenure. Upon stepping down, he was elected Chancellor Emeritus by the ECU Board of Trustees.
Staton served as Interim President of Valdosta State University. He also served the University System of Georgia and its 26 institutions as Vice Chancellor for Extended Education. He was Chief International Officer and responsible for the system-wide priorities of international education, professional education, entrepreneurial education, and military affairs. He worked to connect the resources of USG institutions with Georgia’s evolving workforce needs and led efforts to create the Georgia Film Academy addressing the workforce issues of Georgia’s burgeoning film industry.
Staton served as a Georgia State Senator for ten years, including two terms as Majority Whip. Serving on all major committees, he chaired the sub-committee of Senate Appropriations responsible for Georgia’s $2 billion annual investment in higher education.
Staton served Mercer University as Associate Professor, Associate Provost, and University Publisher from 1991-2003.
An entrepreneur, Staton served as the founding CEO and President of several successful media companies in publishing and broadcasting.
Dr. Staton holds the D.Phil. degree (1988) from the University of Oxford in England, the Th.M. (1985) and M.Div. with Languages (1982) degrees from Southeastern Seminary, and the B.A. (1980) from Furman University. In 2014, Mercer University awarded him the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
Staton has received numerous awards including the inaugural Richard Furman Award from Furman University in 2000, and the 2014 Miller-Deal Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Georgia Independent College Association.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston Churchill
"As education leaders, we must nurture an ecosystem that embraces innovation in instruction, curriculum, scholarship, research, and financial sustainability while always putting students’ interests and the needs of those we serve first. We must carry out scholarship and intellectual endeavors of the highest standards grounded in active learning with a commitment to impact the economy and well-being of our region for the better. We must prepare students to become catalysts for innovation, prepared for the speed of change, and eagerly embracing the challenges of the world awaiting them. And we must fulfill these objectives while supporting staff and faculty, positioning the university as an education pioneer and economic engine, elevating the regional and national prominence of the institution."