Florida’s Board of Governors unanimously confirmed Richard McCullough as president of Florida State in a meeting at St. Petersburg on Wednesday morning. He will be Florida State’s 16th president.
McCullough described his story, growing up in Texas and sharing his appreciation for the low cost ($50 per semester) of a community college education in Texas for helping him jump-start his educational career.
“I saw education as a pathway forward and to gain social mobility,” McCullough said. “Affordable of public education is really what led me to live the American dream. It really transformed my life.”
McCullough is Harvard’s Vice Provost for Research and is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering. He previously held the title of VP for Research at Carnegie Mellon as well as the Dean of the Mellon College of Science as well as professor and head of the Chemistry department. He has also founded two companies: Plextronics Inc and Liquid X Printed Metals.
He said the job at FSU was intriguing because of the work done by faculty and president John Thrasher. He also mentioned the “tremendous pride that the university has and how people have this family culture, a welcoming culture.”
On Wednesday, he was confirmed formally by the BOG. McCullough, 62, will start on Aug. 16, one day after president John Thrasher retires, but McCullough has been active in holding meetings with campus and athletics administrators. He will earn $750,000 annually on a five-year contract.
“I think the foundation is set for the next president, the faculty, students and staff to continue to work hard on going after those aspirational goals,” McCullough said. “I am a goal-oriented person, which is one of the reasons I’m so incredibly excited about this job. Because I can tell you as the Vice Provost of Research at Harvard, you can have a set of goals but the goals you have are very different than they would be as a president. And so I look forward to having 100 goals. I’m really excited about that possibility.”
As part of his remarks on Wednesday, McCullough said he will use his background in science, research and entrepreneurship to push for more National Instituted of Health (NIH) funding and expand research development. He also referenced FSU’s work with the Mag Lab as well as health and life sciences.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity with NIH and with the Department of Defense and Department of Energy as well,” McCullough said. “Those are areas that link and grow through building centers in interdisciplinary research institutes, bringing people together across the institution, hire and retaining the best faculty. Things like that.
“There’s work to be done providing the infrastructure for the faculty to be as successful as they can, expanding the research development. I think there’s a lot of opportunities there. So that looks like a great area of growth for Florida State University going forward.”
The Osceola previously interviewed members of the search committee and Board of Trustees about their first impressions of McCullough. McCullough does not have a background in athletics but is an avid fan. He has already met with football coach Mike Norvell, Seminole Boosters Inc. CEO Michael Alford and others within the athletics department.
“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,” BOT chair Ed Burr said in a statement released by FSU. “The board is excited to work with Dr. McCullough as he leads FSU along the path of greatness.”
McCullough and his wife, Jai Vartikar, have two children, Jason and Dylan.