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FSU Board of Trustees reaches unanimous vote for 16th president

Richard McCullough is unanimous choice for the 16th President of FSU
Posted at 4:24 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 12:10:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University concluded interviews for the open presidential position, with the Board of Trustees announcing Richard McCullough as the unanimous choice for the 16th President of FSU, replacing Dr. John Thrasher.

Three candidates were selected for the final interview process, Giovanni Piedimonte, Tulane University, VP for Research and Institutional Official, Robert A. Boulin, University of North Carolina, Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost, and Richard McCullough, Harvard University, Vice Provost for Research.

A first-generation student from Mesquite, Texas, McCullough attended Eastfield Community College before earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1982. He earned a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1988 and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University in New York.

McCullough began his academic career as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1990 at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he became the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry in 2009. He was promoted to Head of Chemistry in 1998 and later served as dean of the Mellon College of Science from 2001-2007 before becoming the university’s Vice President for Research.

At Carnegie Mellon, McCullough developed a vibrant innovation ecosystem, the Greenlighting Start-ups Initiative, that increased university spin-out companies and corporate engagement. In 2013, he was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Since 2012, McCullough oversaw the development, planning of and execution of academic research at Harvard and led an office of Foundation and Corporate Engagement.

As Vice Provost of Research at Harvard, McCullough launched the new Harvard Data Science Initiative, a collaboration between 12 of the university’s schools and over 120 faculty. The effort led to three new master’s programs and several new undergraduate courses.

McCullough created a diverse channel of Black/African American academics using his research lab and as the founding creator of the Future Faculty Workshop: Diverse Leaders of Tomorrow. The annual workshop helps diverse postdoctoral fellows and students obtain academic jobs and has helped place more than 50 underrepresented minority professors in the country.

McCullough is also a founder of two companies that hold multiple patents.

He and his wife, Jai Vartikar, have two children, Jason and Dylan.

McCullough will succeed John Thrasher, who will retire later this summer after serving as president since 2014.

The appointment is subject to approval by the Florida Board of Governors on June 23.