Former Saddleback president dies after battle with cancer

Dr. Richard McCullough (Lariat file photo)

Cooper Oznowicz

Richard D. McCullough,  whose vision was to create the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, died yesterday after a battle with colon cancer. He was Saddleback College president from 2004 to 2008.

McCullough, who was known for being affable and hardworking, will be surely be missed. He was 70.

Kelsey Avers, a former managing editor of the Lariat, who had done a piece on him for the newspaper, spoke fondly of McCullough.

“I was extremely nervous when I first stepped into his office to write that story, but his calm, yet bubbly sense of humor immediately calmed me,” Avers said. “Our interview turned into a very comfortable discussion.”

McCullough began his tenure at Saddleback College in 1971 first as a professor in biological sciences. Throughout his 37 years of dedicated service at the school he went on to become the president, dean of the Mathematics, Science and Engineering Division and Vice President for Instruction.

Prior to coming to Saddleback he taught at He taught at Loyola University, Mirman School for the Gifted, Montessori School, Moorpark College, and Newbury Park High School.

McCullough also served on advisory boards, from college and universities and high school districts to the California State Liaison Committee on Natural Sciences.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Loyola University, a master’s degree in cellular biology from Purdue University, and a doctorate in psychophysiology from U.S. International University.

Jennie McCue, Director of Public Information and Marketing at Saddleback, worked with McCullough and nothing but praise for him.

“Dr. McCullough loved teaching, loved students and loved Saddleback College,” McCue said. “Everyone that knew him knew what kind of person he was. He will be greatly missed.”

Last February, the MSE Division hosted a presentation by Dr. Richard Kuhn about dengue fever. Kuhn had met McCullough five years prior at Purdue University.

“[McCullough] has a passion for education. He loves Saddleback College,” Kuhn told the Lariat. “He single-handedly changed Saddleback. It’s been a remarkable change.”

During that same lecture, Dean Jim Wright shared a brief biographical sketch of McCullough, crediting him for his nearly 40 years at the college in various roles, including setting up the electron microscopy lab, the solar observatory, as well as McCullough’s efforts initiating the Veterans Memorial project.

“Dr. McCullough once said to always be kind to people,” Wright said.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Diana McCullough, an instructor at Irvine Valley College; his children Sean McCullough, Sheri Norwood (Gary), Melissa Scott Ross (Stefan), and McKenna Scott; grandchildren Jackson and Ethan Norwood; and brother David McCullough (Joy).

Memorial services will be held next Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at McKinney Theatre on the Saddleback College campus.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Dr. Richard D. McCullough Physiology Scholarship and the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial Funds, c/o Saddleback College Foundation, 28000 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692, or call (949) 582-4479.

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