Florida State University’s Board of Trustees chose the vice provost for research at Harvard University as Florida State’s next president, ending a controversial search that had included as a candidate Florida’s former House of Representatives speaker, who is also the state's current education commissioner.
Trustees chose Richard McCullough, Florida State announced Monday. McCullough is credited with overseeing development of strategies, planning and academic research at Harvard since 2012. He also leads an office of Foundation and Corporate Engagement. Previously, he was at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for 22 years, rising to the level of vice president for research.
He’s set to be Florida State’s 16th president, subject to approval from the state Board of Governors June 23.
McCullough was one of three finalists selected about a week ago. Selecting finalists was contentious because one candidate for the university’s presidency was Richard Corcoran, former speaker of the state House of Representatives and current Florida education commissioner. He also holds a position on the Florida Board of Governors.
His candidacy while a member of the board prompted the leader of Florida State’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, to send a letter voicing concern about a potential conflict of interest and stating Florida State’s accreditation -- and access to federal financial aid funding -- could be at stake if Corcoran were selected while a member of the governing board.
Days after the accreditor’s letter, three finalists were named for the Florida State presidency. All were academics. They did not include Corcoran.
Three of the last four Florida State presidents have come from the world of politics, The Tampa Bay Times reported. That includes the university’s current president, John Thrasher, who is a former speaker of the Florida House and who is retiring later this summer.