On Monday, Aug. 16, Mr. John Thrasher stepped down from his initial position as President of Florida State University. He had been the university president for seven years, attending FSU as merely a student himself almost six decades ago; taking his place is Dr. Richard McCullough.
While FSU students have begun to recognize him more often as he makes his way through campus, or onto home pages, students have not had the chance to fully learn about the 16th president. Who is President McCullough?
President McCullough is a first-generation student who attended The University of Texas, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He went on to further his education at John Hopkins University, earning his master’s and Ph.D. in organic chemistry. McCullough would later attend Columbia University for his postdoctoral fellowship.
His careers have all centered around higher education, beginning his workforce trek at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1990, he was an assistant professor of chemistry and in 2009, worked his way up to becoming the “Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry.” This title is granted to those who display themselves as advocates and leaders for research within the university. He held many leadership roles during his time spent there, predominantly centering around chemistry and research. From 2012 up until now, he held the position of Vice Provost for research at Harvard University, his most notable feature for most FSU students.
Kicking off his position in Tallahassee, only this past month, during McCullough’s first few days on campus he was thrown right into a storm (literally); having to take care of Tropical Storm Fred potentially impacting campus. “It’s always good to live an interesting life so having a tropical storm on your first day definitely adds to the workload,” he stated.
During his time as Vice Provost at Harvard, it is reported that under his leadership, there was a focus on innovation and, “removing barriers to collaboration” in a variety of regards.
In May, FSU faculty, students and more were able to approach McCullough and pick his brain regarding what he believed and had in store for the university. When standing in front of the Board of Governors, he said he wanted to “advance FSU’s research status” and plans on bringing FSU into the Top 10 ranking of Public Universities. He further spoke on how he would advocate for the arts, giving examples from programs he’s created at past universities where he’s held careers and believes English and the Humanities are ideal when it comes to bettering the university. McCullough further addressed the importance of climate change and how he believes it should be a top priority for the school.
McCullough has signed on for a five-year contract as FSU’s president and will earn an annual base pay of $700,000. While students can take his word and look at his past experiences, actions speak louder than words. Here’s to the new era: President McCullough.