The Florida Board of Governors has confirmed the selection of Richard McCullough, vice provost for research at Harvard University, as Florida State University’s 16th president.
McCullough’s first day in office will be Monday, Aug. 16. He succeeds John Thrasher, who became president in 2014.
“I am grateful to the Florida Board of Governors for confirming my selection as Florida State University’s next president,” McCullough said. “Over the past few weeks, I have been fortunate to meet some incredible people at FSU and have continued to learn why it is such a special place. FSU has tremendous potential for even greater success, and I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and alumni to lead it into the future.”
The Board of Governors’ unanimous vote during its Wednesday, June 23, regular meeting confirms the FSU Board of Trustees’ selection of McCullough. The trustees voted May 24 to name McCullough the university’s next president.
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 the finalists back to campus for open forums with students, faculty, staff and community members.
“Rick McCullough is a visionary leader who possesses the experience and acumen needed to build upon Florida State University’s academic excellence and continue our trajectory as one of the nation’s preeminent universities,” said Ed Burr, chair of the FSU Board of Trustees. “The board is excited to work with Dr. McCullough as he leads FSU along the path of greatness.”
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.
At Harvard, McCullough oversaw the development, review and implementation of strategies, planning and executing academic research across the university since 2012. In addition, he led an office of Foundation and Corporate Engagement and assisted 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.
Previously, McCullough spent 22 years at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he began his academic career as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1990 and became the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry in 2009. McCullough was promoted to Head of Chemistry in 1998 and then served as dean of the Mellon College of Science from 2001-2007 before becoming the university’s Vice President for Research.
McCullough, a founder of two companies who holds multiple patents, has a rich background in entrepreneurship and innovation. At Carnegie Mellon he developed a vibrant innovation ecosystem, including the Greenlighting Start-ups Initiative that exponentially increased the generation of university spin-out companies and corporate engagement. In 2013, he was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
A staunch champion of diversity, McCullough created a diverse pipeline of Black/African American academics from both his research lab and as the founding creator of the Future Faculty Workshop: Diverse Leaders of Tomorrow, an annual workshop that helps diverse postdoctoral fellows and students obtain academic jobs. Now in its 15th year, the workshop has facilitated placing more than 50 underrepresented minority professors in the United States.
McCullough, also a professor of materials science and engineering at Harvard, is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals. He has been an innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer adviser to Oxford University, Princeton University and Washington University at St. Louis.
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.