FSU presidential search narrows to three with elite academic backgrounds

by | May 16, 2021

The Florida State University Presidential Search Advisory Committee narrowed the field of candidates from nine to just three people on Saturday, all of the finalists coming from traditional university campus backgrounds. The committee moved swiftly following the conclusion of two days of nearly hour-long interviews of each candidate.

The finalists are: Richard McCollough, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Harvard University; Robert Blouin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of North Carolina; and Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, Vice President for Research, and Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Tulane School of Medicine.

The FSU Board of Trustees has slated three separate days to interact with each candidate: Tuesday, May 18th for Mccollough, Wednesday, May 19th for Blouin, and Thursday, May 20th for Piedimonte.

In the end, the elite academic credentials of the finalists proved decisive over the other six candidates, each with their own impressive resumes. But with Florida State’s goal of gaining admission to the prestigious American Association of Universities (AAU), and with McCollough, Blouin and Piedimonte all hailing from schools who were already members of the AAU, they simply proved too good to pass over.

During the previous Presidential search in 2014, current FSU President John Thrasher managed to overcome his non-traditional background to edge out a number of highly qualified applicants, including a former Chancellor at Louisiana State University and Colorado State University System, and the interim president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, however, none of that crop of finalists hailed from schools that were members of the AAU.

This time around, all five of the out-of-state candidates who were in the running on Friday hailed from schools who were members of the AAU, making the the competition for non-traditional candidates, including Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Tallahassee businessman Sean Pittman, far tougher.

Credit Thrasher himself for helping guide Florida State’s rise in national rankings over the last several years in part for helping attract the highly qualified academic candidates.

All nine interviews with the search committee can be watched here.


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