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Former MSU President Cecil Mackey Dead at 89

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MSU University Archives & Historical Collections
Maurice "Cecil" Mackey Jr. served as president of Michigan State University from 1979 to 1985.

Cecil Mackey, who served six years as the 16th president of Michigan State University, has died. 


Maurice Cecil Mackey Junior took the reins at MSU in 1979 after having served as president of the University of South Florida and Texas Tech University. 


He was an economist by training, and he put those skills to work as president.  When MSU faced a $30 million budget shortfall in the early 1980’s, Mackey made several unpopular budget cuts, including reducing the size of the College of Nursing. 


There were more positive achievements during his time, too.  The Wharton Center for the Performing Arts and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory both opened at MSU during his watch.  Mackey stepped down in 1985. 


Cecil Mackey died on February 8 at age 89.  


A veteran of three military branches, he’ll be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. 


A memorial service in East Lansing is pending.





Kevin Lavery served as a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered before retiring in 2023.
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