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Three finalists advance to next stage in FSU president search

Florida State University
Posted at 3:57 PM, May 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 20:41:58-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University concluded their first round of interviews for their open presidential position, appointing three of three candidates to the next step in the interview process.

A total of nine candidates interviewed with the search committee, six on Friday and the remaining three on Saturday. The candidates ranged from business leaders to local officials and lifelong academics.

The search committee approved the following candidates for the next round:

Giovanni Piedimonte, Tulane University, VP for Research and Institutional Official

Piedimonte had the longest resume out of all of the candidates that were considered, with a total of 125 pages detailing his career accomplishments thus far.

He is a pediatrician and pulmonologist by trade but has worked for the likes of West Virginia University, the University of Miami, Cleveland Clinic Foundation and most recently Tulane University.

In his interview Saturday, Piedimonte talked of the need to invest money into research more aggressively if the university wants to attain the goal of being invited to the Association of American Universities.

The AAU was a common talking point with all the candidates throughout the interview process and the association was commonly referred to as a "country club," which Piedimonte said he knew well because his current school is a part of the AAU.

The AAU was founded in 1900 and is composed of America’s leading research universities and their 65 research universities "transform lives through education, research, and innovation," according to their website.

"Thus, as we approach a critical juncture for the future of higher education in our country, I believe I have fully developed the framework and perspective - as well as the organizational, operational, and systemic foundations - needed to perform successfully as an academic leader, senior administrator, and executive manager even in the most complex organizations," Piedimonte wrote in his cover letter.

His full interview can be viewed by clicking here.

Robert A. Boulin, University of North Carolina, Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost

Boulin has been working at UNC since 2003 where he has previously held positions such as Dean and Bryson Distinguished Professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy as well as Director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation before taking on his current role in 2017.

Before working at UNC, Boulin worked at the University of Kentucky for about 25 years. Like Piedimento, Boulin is also has a doctorate, only his is in pharmacy.

Boulin currently oversees a $3.5 billion academic enterprise which includes $1.1 billion in research expenditures (ranked #11 nationally) and is currently ranked fifth nationally in federal grants/contracts awarded, according to his Curriculum Vitae.

"Florida State University has made incredible progress over the past seven years under the leadership of President John Thrasher," Boulin wrote in his cover letter. "I would build upon that tremendous success and the momentum created during this period and further elevate the education, research, and economic impact opportunities of your great university."

His full interview can be viewed by clicking here.

Richard McCullough, Harvard University, Vice Provost for Research

McCullough interviewed on Friday and is currently the vice provost for research at Harvard University and he also serves as a professor of materials science and engineering.

He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from John Hopkins University where he graduated in 1988. Before Harvard, McCullough worked in multiple positions at Carnegie Mellon University in roles such as Dean of the College of Science, Vice President of Research and multiple professorships.

"I would bring my experience in creating new strategic research and educational initiatives that not only increase research funding but lead to a rise in the university and departmental rankings and set the stage for membership to the AAU," McCullough wrote in his cover letter.

His full interview can be viewed by clicking here.

The three candidates will participate in open forums with students, faculty, staff and the community during the week of May 17.

  • Richard McCullough – Tuesday, May 18
  • Robert Blouin – Wednesday, May 19
  • Giovanni Piedimonte – Thursday, May 20

The forums will be hosted at the Augustus B. Turnbull Conference Center. In-person attendees will have the opportunity to ask candidates questions.

This event will also be live-streamed on the Presidential Search website. Virtual attendees will also have an opportunity to ask pre-submitted questions. Please send your candidate questions to

The forum schedule is as follows:

  • 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Staff Forum
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Faculty Forum
  • 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Community and Direct Support Organizations Forum
  • 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Student Forum

For the most up-to-date information on the FSU presidential search, you can visit their website
by clicking here.