Staton named interim president at Valdosta State

Cecil Staton, who once represented Middle Georgia in the state Senate, has been named interim president of Valdosta State University.

Staton, 57, will assume his new duties July 1 after current President William McKinney steps down. Staton is now the University System of Georgia’s vice chancellor for extended education.

“Cecil has an extensive academic background in higher education combined with solid experience in leading a business operation that makes him uniquely qualified to provide leadership at Valdosta State during this important period,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have someone of Cecil’s caliber in the University System who can step in and ensure Valdosta State continues to move forward.”

Staton joined the USG in 2014 after serving in the Legislature for 10 years, where he was a Republican representative for Senate District 18.

A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Staton graduated from Furman University, then earned Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He has a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.

Staton served as a professor at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia from 1989 through 1991. He worked for Mercer University for more than 11 years as an associate provost, an associate professor and publisher of Mercer University Press.

He ran unsuccessfully for the 11th Congressional District in 2002, losing in a runoff to a Phil Gingrey, then a state lawmaker. He ran for the state Senate in 2004 and won, then was re-elected four more times. He served as vice chairman of the Republican Caucus before being elected majority whip in 2010.

The first bill he brought to the state Senate in 2005 was a voter ID law, a measure that eventually attracted court challenges. He also authored a 2009 measure requiring that proof of citizenship accompany voter registration papers, which also drew challenges.

He helped to secure more than $200 million for the Mercer University School of Medicine while he was in the Legislature, in part to fund training for doctors who will serve in rural areas.

He also helped lead the charge for a consolidated Macon-Bibb government and nonpartisan local elections.

During his time as a state senator, Staton was also a businessman, having founded two publishing companies and a broadcasting company.

Staton is the author of several books. He and his wife, Catherine, have two children.

To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382.