Dr. Cecil P. Staton
Chancellor Emeritus, East Carolina University
Academic, Business, and Public Service
President and CEO, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2021 to present. Based in Macon, Georgia, Smyth & Helwys is a publisher of Christian books and resources including Christian education resources used by hundreds of churches across the U.S. I served as the founding President, CEO, and Publisher for more than thirteen years earlier in my career. I have served on the Board of Directors since its founding in 1990 and returned in late 2021 to give guidance and support to the enterprise during a time of transition. Smyth & Helwys is known for its Sunday School curriculum resources that support biblical literacy as well as the multi-volume Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (https://www.helwys.com/ and https://www.nextsunday.com/).
President and CEO, AAHOA, 2019 to 2021. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, with satellite offices in Washington, D.C., AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) is the largest hotel owners association in the world with 20,000 members who own 60 percent of the hotels in the United States. AAHOA is the foremost resource and advocate of America’s hotel owners, providing daily communications, hundreds of education opportunities annually, and impactful federal and state government advocacy efforts.
*Leading successful strategic plan development and visioning process with the Board of Directors together with budgeting realignment to support the objectives and success of the plan
*Pivoting during pandemic to virtual events increasing annual member engagement by more than 250%, reaching more than 70,000 in 2020-2021 through more than 250 online education offerings
*Leading advocacy efforts with congress and the administration to insure the Cares Act, PPP loan program, and subsequent legislation appropriately aid the hospitality industry and hotel owners, struggling to survive the pandemic
*Leading efforts to adjust the association’s budget reflecting the impact of the pandemic, strategically reducing expenses, and successfully insuring a positive financial outcome at the end of 2020
Chancellor Emeritus, East Carolina University. Served as ECU’s 11th Chancellor from 2016 to 2019. ECU is a public research university and a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system with 29,000 students, 5,600 faculty and staff members and an annual budget of approximately $1 billion. ECU colleges include: Allied Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Dentistry, Education, Engineering and Technology, Fine Arts and Communications, Health and Human Performance, Medicine, Nursing, together with an Honors College and Graduate School. Approximately 40 percent of ECU students study STEM related fields. ECU’s mission is student success, public service, and regional transformation. It is also known for its NCAA Division I Pirate athletic programs and is a member of the American Athletic Conference. ECU is recognized for its success with first-generation students from rural and low-income areas, its distance education leadership, and for its rapidly growing research and internationalization efforts.
Initiatives at ECU included:
*Launching the Rural Prosperity Initiative, a new university enterprise partnering with SAS focusing upon healthcare, education, and economic disparities in rural North Carolina
*Launching a $500 million capital campaign, the largest in the institution’s history, with more than $230 million in gifts, pledges, and commitments during the first two and a half years of the quiet phase
*Leading successful direct-report searches for Chief Communications Officer, Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance, Vice Chancellor of Research, Economic Development, and Engagement, and Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine, as well as searches for a new Athletic Director, Head Men’s and Women’s Basketball Coaches, and Head Football Coach
*Providing leadership for numerous capital projects including $70 million in dormitory renovations, a $60 million southside stadium 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 and collision space for the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and a $95 million life sciences building, that was completed in 2021
*Leading ECU’s Strategic Plan Extension for 2017—2022: Capture Your Horizon
*Launching initiative to increase enrollment at the Brody School of Medicine and to build a new $215 million medical education facility
*Launching a new branding and marketing campaign increasing awareness of the institution nationally and internationally
*Launching initiatives to increasing research activity by 50 percent over five years
*Launching initiatives to increase internationalization including doubling the number of students participating in education abroad over five years
*Doubling the enrollment of the Honors College beginning fall 2017
*Launching the ECU Lab (Laboratory) School in partnership with Pitt County Schools, focusing on the integration of health, wellness, and learning
*Launching the Innovation Early College High School on ECU’s campus, a collaboration between ECU and Pitt County Schools
*Leading preparations for creating ECU’s 13th college, the College of Rural Public Health
Professor with Tenure, Philosophy and Religious Studies, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, 2016 to 2019
Interim President, Valdosta State University, 2015—2016. VSU is a comprehensive regional university of the University System of Georgia with 11,300 students, more than 560 faculty and 870 staff members, and an annual budget of $180 million. VSU includes colleges of Arts and Sciences, Arts, Business, Education, and Nursing and Health Sciences, together with an Honors College and Graduate School. VSU serves as the intellectual, cultural, and economic center of its region. The University is known for the arts and is home to the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra as well as the Peach State Summer Theater. It is also known for its NCAA Division II athletic programs including multiple national championships in football and other sports. Appointed by the Chancellor and on loan from the University System for the 2015—2016 academic year, achievements included:
*Developed $2 million marketing, branding, and imaging campaign aimed at increasing enrollment—VSYOU https://vimeo.com/137388587
*Results: out of state applications for fall 2016 were up dramatically, and total applications were up 60 percent year over year
*Provided presidential leadership for Invest, Ignite, Inspire: the Campaign for Valdosta State University, raising more than $17 million during the interim year
*Established the VSU $1 Million Innovation Fund for proposals leading to an increase in enrollment, credit hour production, and improved graduation rates
*Developed the VSU 70/80 Task Force charged with leading campus initiatives to improve retention rates from 70 to 80 percent
*Appointed a Presidential Diversity Task Force
*Led efforts to balance the 2016—2017 budget by reducing expenditures by $4.4 million
*Established Hope Gap Grant and Blazer Opportunity Grant programs by raising $3.5 million for needs-based scholarships
*Worked to expand VSU E-Learning offerings and Competency Based Education plan
Vice-Chancellor for Extended Education, University System of Georgia, 2014—2016. Responsible for leadership of the strategic and long-term initiatives of International Education, Professional and Continuing Education, Entrepreneurship Education, and Military Affairs for the University System of Georgia, comprising 26 colleges and universities.
*Served as the Chief International Officer for the USG
*Served as the liaison between the Board of Regents, USG institutions and key government, business and post-secondary partners
*Worked with the deans, faculty and research staff to address legal and regulatory requirements that may have an impact on related program and service areas
*Worked with the Board of Regent’s economic development office to identify expansion opportunities with the private sector, government, and USG supporters, addressing Georgia’s workforce needs
*Provided leadership for USG’s role with the Georgia Research Alliance Led efforts to create the Georgia Film Academy, to support the workforce needs of Georgia’s burgeoning film and digital entertainment industry
Georgia State Senator, District 18, 2004—2014
*Elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012
*Served as Vice-Chair of Caucus
*Served as Majority Whip for two terms
*Served on the Committee on Assignments, which appoints chairs and committee members; as Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee; Chair of the Science and Technology Committee; and member of the Higher Education, Reapportionment, Banking, Rules, Regulated Industries, Veterans and Military Affairs, and Appropriations committees
*Served as Chairman of the Higher Education Sub-Committee of Appropriations, responsible for Georgia’s $2 billion annual funding of the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Research Alliance, Georgia Public Broadcasting, as well as private higher education
*Served as Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Community Health, championing efforts to increase the healthcare workforce of Georgia, sponsoring legislation creating the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission, and successfully advocating for more than $100 million in investment in the state’s trauma care system
*Advocated for state funding for enrollment expansion for the Mercer University School of Medicine, securing more than $200 million in funding over ten years
*Through the appropriations process was involved in formulating the state’s budget of more than $20 billion annually, leading efforts related to higher education and health care workforce needs
Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., Founding President and Publisher, 1990—2013. Smyth & Helwys is a private publishing company, which grew from a start-up to publish more than 30 books, and 80 curriculum products annually marketed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Named for John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, early 17th century English dissenters and pioneers of religious liberty in England.
Stroud & Hall Publishers, Inc., Founding President and Publisher, 2004—2013. Stroud and Hall, a boutique publishing company, publishing books in the fields of politics and current events. Selecting only several books each year, Stroud & Hall received national acclaim for the publication of two New York Times bestsellers by former Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller.
Staton Broadcasting, Inc. and Georgia Eagle Media, Inc., Founding President and CEO, 2001—2013. Georgia Eagle Broadcasting, Inc., successor to Staton Broadcasting, Inc., was a holding company for broadcasting, newspaper, and media properties, growing from one station to a group that included 15 radio stations, a newspaper, and one television station serving central and south Georgia.
Associate Provost, Associate Professor, and University Publisher, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia, 1991—2003.
*Led Mercer’s academic publishing efforts through Mercer University Press, with responsibility for encouraging and assisting faculty in their research and publishing endeavors
*Undertook special administrative assignments as directed by the President or Provost of the University
*Taught courses for the Roberts Department of Religion in the College of Liberal Arts
*Served on the study committee that led to the establishment of the McAfee School of Theology
*Presidential fellow in 2002, traveling to 15 comprehensive universities around the country leading to the publication of A Sturdy American Hybrid (Mercer University Press, 2003)
*Led University Advancement activities that secured more than $4,500,000 in endowment for the Mercer University Press
Assistant Professor, Brewton-Parker College, Mount Vernon, Georgia, 1989—1991. A small, private, church related liberal arts college with 1,500 students.
*Served as a member of the Promotions and Tenure Committee
*Editor for the institutional self-study for renewal of accreditation (1990—1991)
*Taught New Testament, Old Testament, and Hebrew courses
*Active in public relations for the college through service to area churches and speaking opportunities throughout the region
Tutor, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, 1987—1988. Responsible for individual tutorials with students preparing for exams in the Oxbridge tradition during final year of D.Phil. research and writing.
Certificate, AASCU New Presidents Academy, 2015. American Association of State Colleges and Universities annual leadership program for new presidents and chancellors focusing upon strategic visioning, shaping the organization, financial management, NCAA athletics, crisis management, leading change, external relations, and advancement.
Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) degree in Old Testament, Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford, England, 1988
*Member of Regent’s Park College
*Thesis: “‘And Yahweh Appeared’: A Study of the Motifs of ‘Seeing God’ and of ‘God’s Appearing’ in Old Testament Narratives,” supervised by Professor Ernest W. Nicholson; examined by Professor John Barton and Dr. Adrian Curtis
*Received the American Scholarship for achievement during first year of research, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, 1986—1987
*Received the Overseas Research Student Award, University of Oxford, 1987—1988
Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina, 1985
*Majored in Hebrew and Old Testament studies
*Thesis: “A Study of the Language of Theophany in the Old Testament with Special Reference to the Niphal of r’h,” supervised by Professor John I. Durham
*Received the R. T. Daniel Award for achievement in the Study of the Old Testament, 1983
*Received the G. Henton Davies Prize for achievement in the Study of Hebrew, 1985
*Served as Grader and Fellow for Professor of Hebrew, Dr. B. Elmo Scoggin, 1982—1985
Master of Divinity with Languages (M.Div.) degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina, 1982
*Focused upon Hebrew, Old Testament studies, and the ancient Near East Participated in archaeological digs at Dan and ‘Aroer in Israel, 1982
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, 1980
*Majored in Religion with secondary emphasis in Philosophy
*Participated in study abroad program in Israel, Jordan, Italy, and France
*Received the Baggot Award as outstanding religion major, 1980
Diploma from Carolina High School, Greenville, South Carolina, 1976
*President of the Sophomore Class
*President of the Student Body, senior year
*South Carolina Scholastic Press Association Photographer of the Year Award, senior year
Author of numerous editorials and articles for the Macon Telegraph, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jones County News, Warner Robins Patriot, Thomaston Times, Upson Beacon, Valdosta Daily Times, and Daily Reflector newspapers.
Editor and Author, Walk with Me: Memories, Reflections, and Essays Celebrating the Life of James Milton Pitts. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2021.
Author, A Sturdy American Hyrbid: The Associated New American Colleges. Macon: Mercer University Press, 2003.
Author, “Theophany,” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000.
Editor and Author, Why I am a Baptist: Reflections on Being Baptist in the 21st Century. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1999.
Chair, Editorial Board, Mercer Library of Biblical Studies. Volume 1, Genesis by Herman Gunkel. Translated by Mark E. Biddle. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1997; Volume 2, Introduction to the Psalms by Herman Gunkel. Translated by James D. Nogalski, 1998.
Series Editor with Jeffrey S. Rogers, Studies in Old Testament Interpretation, Volumes 1 and 2, 1995; Volume 3, 1996. Macon: Mercer University Press.
Editor and Author, Interpreting Amos for Preaching and Teaching, Kerygma and Church. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1995.
Author, “Obadiah,” Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1994; and in Mercer Commentary on the Bible, Volume 4: The Prophets. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1996.
Author, “The History of Smyth & Helwys Publishing,” The Struggle for the Soul of the SBC. Walter B. Shurden, editor. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1993.
Editor and Author, Interpreting Hosea for Preaching and Teaching, Kerygma and Church. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1993.
Author, “The Worship Experience,” Formations Commentary. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1992: 17-35.
Editor and Author, Interpreting Isaiah for Preaching and Teaching, Kerygma and Church. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1991.
Author, “‘How Long, O Yahweh?’: The Complaint Prayer of Psalm 13,” Faith and Mission, VII/2 (Spring 1990): 59-67.
Author, “Boundary Stones,” “Cosmetics,” “Gerasa,” “Images/Figurines,” “Medeba,” “Perea,” “Shophar,” and “Spice,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1990.
Author, “Spiritual Health and Proper Worship,” in The Way of Faith, James M. Pitts, Editor. Wake Forest: Chanticleer Publishing Company, Inc., 1985: 143-148.
Select Honors and Recognitions
Mercer University Honors, Commencement 2014. Awarded the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree for service and leadership in higher education and medical education for the State of Georgia.
Georgia Independent College Association 2014 Miller-Deal Award, for significant public service in higher education. The award is GICA’s highest honor. GICA represents 26 private colleges and universities in Georgia.
Emory University Center for Injury Control Award for contributions to trauma care in Georgia, 2013
Georgia Hospital Association Legislator of the Year, 2011
Georgia Technology Association Legislator of the Year, 2010
Georgia Rural Health Care Association Legislator of the Year, 2010
Georgia Ambulance Association Star of Life Award, 2009
Commencement Speaker, Mercer University School of Medicine, 2008
Received the inaugural Richard B. Furman Award from Furman University, 2000
Who’s Who in the Media and Communications, 1998—1999, and subsequent years
Executive of the Year 1993—1994, Professional Secretaries International
Who’s Who in Religion, 1992—1993, and subsequent years
Member, Board of Directors, Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, responsible for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Appointed by Governor Brian Kemp, 2022—present
Member, Center for Hospitality Research Advisory Board, SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University, 2019—2021
Member, California Hotel and Lodging Association Board of Directors, 2019—2021
Member, U.S. Travel Board of Directors, 2019—2021
Member, Board of Directors, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2018—2019
Member, Board of Directors, VECU Medical Group, Inc., merging the practice plans of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Medical Group, 2016—2019
Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, American Athletic Conference, 2016—2019
Member, Board of Directors, Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, 2016—2019
Member, Board of Directors for the ECU Foundation, the ECU Health Sciences Foundation, and the ECU Educational Foundation (Pirate’s Club), 2016—2019
Member, Board of Directors, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, 2015—2016
Member, International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) 2016—2019
Member, Board of Visitors, University of Georgia, 2013—2016
Member, Kappa Delta Phi, International Honor Society in Education
Member, Phi Kappa Phi, a National Honor Society that promotes academic excellence in all fields of higher education and engages the community of scholars in service to others
Member, Phi Sigma Tau, National Honor Society in Philosophy
Member, Theta Alpha Kappa, National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology
Previous member, American Academy of Religion
Previous member, Society of Biblical Literature
Previous member, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion
Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia, 2001—2008
Member, Board of Directors, Georgia Writers, a professional support organization for authors and sponsor of the annual Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2000—2002
Member, Board of Directors, Macon Symphony Orchestra and Steering Committee for endowment campaign, 2000—2005
Previous member, Downtown Rotary Club, Macon, Georgia
Member, Gridiron Secret Society, University of Georgia
Member, Oxford and Cambridge Club, London
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, January 26, 1958. Married to Catherine Lynn Davidson (August 23, 1986). Two children: Cecil P. Staton, III (Trey, July 26, 1991), a graduate of the University of Georgia and financial planner in Athens, Georgia, and William Davidson Staton (June 30, 1995), a B.A. and M.A. graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, and a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University. Catherine holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Winthrop University, 1982, and a M.B.A. degree from Clemson University, 1986. She has served on the boards of the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia, the Children’s Hospital in Macon, Georgia, the ECU Women’s Roundtable, the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series, and the American Heart Association Heart Ball in Greenville, North Carolina. While living in England, Catherine worked for the Oxford Regional Health Authority as an accountant.