MSU's 16th president, Maurice Cecil Mackey, Jr., dies
Former MSU president Maurice Cecil Mackey, Jr. died on Feb. 8 at age 89.
The former president, who served at MSU from 1979-85 as MSU's 16th president, also served as president of two other major universities and as an official for several federal agencies, according to a press release from MSU Communications and Brand Strategy Wednesday.
“Cecil Mackey led MSU during some of its toughest budget years and his training as an economist was fully tested,” Interim MSU President John Engler said in the press release. “But he conducted himself with a grace and civility that always left those he encountered amazed at his inner strength. His presence on campus in the classrooms and courtside will be missed. To his wife, Clare, and the Mackey family I offer my sincere condolences upon the passing of a true Spartan.”
Mackey came to MSU amid a financial crisis after working at the University of South Florida and Texas Tech University.
During his time as MSU's president, Mackey selected MSU's first female vice president and first black vice president.
Mackey opened the Wharton Center for Performing Arts and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, started a program to establish endowed chairs and increased private financial support to MSU.
Mackey also faced a nearly $30 million budget shortfall and downsized the College of Nursing.
“I was assistant to the president in Cecil Mackey’s early tenure. He came with a lot of experience and was extremely thoughtful and analytic,” former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon recalled in the press release. “During some of the more difficult economic times for the state and the university, he demonstrated great personal courage in his approach to those sometimes-contentious challenges.”
Following his tenure, he and his wife, Clare, stayed in East Lansing where he continued teaching economics at MSU.
Mackey, born Jan. 23, 1929, received bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois.
He served in the Alabama National Guard, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.
He also received a law degree from the University of Alabama and studied post-graduate law at Harvard University before returning to the University of Alabama to be an assistant law professor.
Mackey served as president of the University of South Florida from 1971-76 and became president of Texas Tech University in 1976, where he remained until becoming MSU's president in 1979.
“I think that anybody associated with a university realizes how fortunate you are to be a part of a university in the United States,” he once said, according to the press release. “The freedom and the opportunity that exists in our universities are unparalleled. It’s a privilege.”