Florida State University selects new president


Richard McCullough was named the new president of Florida State University.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida State University Board of Trustees has selected Richard McCullough, vice provost for research at Harvard University, to serve as the university’s 16th president, the college said in a news release.

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, which meets June 23.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead Florida State University as its next president,” McCullough said. “Public universities are amazing engines of social change and mobility, and FSU is leading the way in that effort. The foundation is set for FSU to take its next jump up, and I’m excited to be a part of the team that will take it to the next level.”

McCullough was one of three finalists forwarded to the trustees from the 15-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee. The committee interviewed nine candidates out of 35 applicants before inviting three finalists back to campus for open forums with students, faculty, staff and community members.

“This is a pivotal time in the history of Florida State University, and I’m confident that Rick McCullough is the person to lead it into the future,” said Ed Burr, chair of the FSU Board of Trustees. “The board believes Dr. McCullough will be an exceptional fit with FSU’s culture of excellence and student success. He is an experienced academic, tested administrator and innovator who possesses a vision that will be vital in continuing our tremendous climb in the national rankings as a preeminent university.”

FSU officials added that McCullough will take the helm of a university “enjoying an incredible run of success.”

“FSU recently cracked the U.S. News & World Report Top 20 rankings, created the first stand-alone college of entrepreneurship in the nation, set a State University System of Florida record with a 74 percent four-year graduation rate, brought in record research funding and increased enrollment of underrepresented or ethnic minority students,” they wrote.

At Harvard, McCullough oversaw the development, review and implementation of strategies, planning and executing academic research across the university since 2012. In addition, he leads an office of Foundation and Corporate Engagement and assists in the oversight of more than 25 interdisciplinary institutes, centers and initiatives across the university.

During his tenure, McCullough successfully built and launched the new Harvard Data Science Initiative, a collaboration between 12 of the university’s schools and more than 120 faculty, which has led to three new master’s programs and the creation of many new undergraduate courses.

McCullough developed and launched a new Structural Biology Program and cryo-electron microscope facility that partners Harvard Medical School with three Boston-area hospitals. He also led the development for a new $100 million, multi-institution collaboration to build the Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing Center and Facility, which will be a hub for workforce training, economic development, education and medical research for the region.

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 and a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1988. McCullough also spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University in New York.

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

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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