Search committee narrows FSU’s presidential search to nine options

Florida State’s presidential search committee has picked nine candidates to be interviewed on Friday and Saturday.

Among those are three “nontraditional” candidates, including FSU athletics director David Coburn, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran and lawyer Sean Pittman. The “traditional” candidates: UNC provost Robert Blouin, Dean and CEO of FSU’s Panama City campus Randy Hanna, Harvard vice provost for research Robert McCullough, Vice president for research at Tulane Giovanni Piedemonte, Senior VP and provost at Maryland Mary Ann Rankin and Texas A&M president Emeritus and professor Michael Young.

The search committee began with 22 names on Tuesday morning before discussing and narrowing choices. Friday’s meeting will begin with public comments on Friday at 9 a.m. with interviews also taking place Saturday morning. A goal of the committee is to make recommendations on a presidential pick ahead of the Board of Trustees meeting on June 2.

The 15-person presidential search advisory committee is chaired by Bob Sasser and Renisha Gibbs is the vice chair. Among those on the committee are Board of Trustees chair Ed Burr, professor and faculty athletics representative Pam Perrewe and Dr. Joe Camps, who played football at FSU in the 1970s. Current and former BOT members are also represented as well as longtime donor DeVoe Moore.

Among those who were eliminated from consideration on Tuesday were Frank Brogan and Jeff Kottkamp.

Here’s a quick look at the nine candidates:

Richard Corcoran

Corcoran is Florida’s education commissioner and was the Speaker of the Florida House from 2016-18. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Leo College in 1989 and a Juris Doctorate from Regent University in 1996. He also served in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1987-1993). Corcoran has a been an attorney for nearly 20 years.

David Coburn

Coburn is FSU’s athletics director. He has earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Juris Doctorate from the FSU College of Law. He has served as chief of staff to FSU presidents Eric Barron and John Thrasher. is a 34-year veteran of the Florida legislative process. He served as Chief of Staff of the House of Representatives under two different Speakers, as Chief of Staff of the Senate under Senate President Ken Pruitt, and as Director of Planning and Budgeting for Gov. Lawton Chiles from 1992-94.

Sean Pittman

Pittman is the Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer of the Pittman Law Group, which specializes in the areas of government, administrative, and corporate law. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1990 from FSU and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1994 from the FSU College of Law. Pittman is the immediate past President of the Orange Bowl Committee, the Founder and Chairman of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, the former Finance Chair for Andrew Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign, and serves on the Board of Directors for Hancock Whitney Bank.

Robert Blouin

Blouin is the Executive Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and serves as the Chief Operating Officer. The provost also has oversight responsibilities for budget and planning. Before coming to Carolina, Blouin was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy from 1978 to 2003. 

Randy Hanna

Hanna has served as the dean and chief executive officer of FSU’s Panama City campus since 2016. He previously served as Chancellor of the Florida College System and a member of the board of trustees of Florida A&M University, the University of West Florida and Tallahassee Community College. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Doctorate of Education, Dr. Hanna earned a Juris Doctorate with High Honors from Florida State University. He received a MBA from Goizuetta Business School at Emory and a Bachelor of Science from Florida.

Robert McCullough

Richard McCullough, Ph.D. has a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Texas, Dallas, earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry at Johns Hopkins. He did his postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University. Since 2012, Dr. McCullough has been Harvard’s Vice Provost for Research, working with the President and Provost to encourage, cultivate and coordinate high impact academic research across all of Harvard’s schools and affiliated institutions. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (VPR) has responsibility and oversight for the development, review, and implementation of strategies, planning, and policies related to the organization and execution of academic research across the university.

Giovanni Piedimonte

Piedimonte, MD, FAAP, FCCP, is responsible for enhancing Tulane’s research mission across all fields including the humanities, neuroscience, environmental science and infectious diseases. In addition to his role as VP for research, he is professor of medicine in the School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Piedimonte received his medical degree from the University of Rome School of Medicine, completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and received fellowship training at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Mary Ann Rankin

Mary Ann Rankin resigned as Maryland’s Senior VP and Provost in January after about eight years on the job. Dr. Rankin led an update to the University’s Strategic Plan, which led to a budget redesign and launch of the Administrative Modernization Program (AMP) aimed at improving campus operations. This included the TerpEngage program to improve student advising, and the recently launched ERP initiative to upgrade software infrastructure in human resources, finance and student services.

Michael Young

Young is President, Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy at Texas A&M. He stepped down as the school’s president in Dec. 2020. He earned a bachelor’s degree from BYU in 1973 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard in 1976. Young later was a clerk for Supreme Court justice William Rehnquist. Young was president at Utah (2004-11), Washington (2011-15) and Texas A&M.

Bio information courtesy Seminoles.com, FSU.edu and various college sites