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New FSU president praises relationship with tribe during inauguration

Tribal member and Florida State University alumnus Kyle Doney, left, presents new Florida State University President Richard McCullough with a handmade patchwork jacket on behalf of the Seminole Tribe during an investiture ceremony as part of McCullough’s inauguration Feb. 25, 2022. (Photo FSU Photography Services)

Richard McCullough was inaugurated as Florida State University’s 16th president Feb. 25 with a formal investiture ceremony at the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on the school’s Tallahassee campus.

The ceremony began with a joint presentation of the colors that included the Seminole Tribe and FSU’s ROTC and police department.

Tribal member and FSU alumnus Kyle Doney, who is the deputy director of the tribe’s Native Learning Center, presented McCullough with a patchwork jacket on behalf of the tribe during the ceremony.

“As an alumnus, I’m excited for President McCullough’s leadership,” Doney told the audience. “As a tribal member, I look forward to working with him to maintain the longstanding relationship between my tribe and FSU.”

The jacket was provided by Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. and was made by Amy Yzaguirre of Immokalee.

“The university honors its unique and collaborative friendship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” McCullough said during his address. “I’m so honored by your special gift today. I will wear it with care and with pride. This university is not only located on the ancestral and traditional homelands of the Seminole Tribe, but we are entrusted by the tribe with a rare honor and responsibility of calling ourselves Seminoles. Among much else, this forms our solidarity with the Seminole Tribe – unconquered peoples – whose power inspires all activities at this university.”

During his remarks, McCullough outlined an ambitious vision for the university which included a place in the top 10 ranking of American public universities.

“Florida State has indeed earned the right to be called a great university,” he said. “Now our challenge – and our responsibility – is to become even greater.”

McCullough takes over as president from John Thrasher, who retired after serving in the position since 2014.

McCullough has more than 30 years of experience in academic research and leadership. Since 2012, he served as vice provost for research and professor of materials science and engineering at Harvard University. Prior to that,

McCullough spent 22 years at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he ascended to head of the chemistry department and served as dean of the Mellon College of Science before being named the university’s vice president for research.

The investiture ceremony highlighted university traditions, including awarding the president’s medallion and the lighting of the three torches which represent the university’s motto, “Vires, Artes, Mores” or strength, skill and character.

The Seminole Tribe, FSU ROTC and FSU Police Department are represented in the presentation of colors during the investiture ceremony for Florida State University President Richard McCullough on Feb. 25, 2022. (WFSU Public Media via YouTube)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at