A director with the National Science Foundation was tapped Wednesday to take the helm of the state university system’s Research Foundation.
Timothy Killeen was nominated by State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to become president of the Research Foundation, pending confirmation by the foundation’s board of directors and the SUNY board of trustees. He will also serve as SUNY’s vice chancellor for research.
Killeen is currently the National Science Foundation’s assistant director for geosciences.
“Tim Killeen and the leadership role he will play for both SUNY and the RF will advance our collaborative success and the strategic alignment our organizations have achieved over the past year,” Zimpher said in a statement.
The scandal-scarred SUNY Research Foundation, which is legally separate from SUNY and distributes about $900 million annually for the university system’s research projects, has been without a permanent president since John O’Connor resigned last June.
O’Connor was implicated by the state Commission on Public Integrity in May 2011, which charged him with giving a $70,000-a-year job that required “virtually no work” to Susan Bruno, the daughter of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. O’Connor denied any wrongdoing.
The next month, a report from a law firm hired by SUNY was critical of the Research Foundation’s relationship with the university system, in particular O’Connor’s leadership.
Killeen is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and has a resume that features work with universities and publicly funded research portfolios.
Prior to landing with the National Science Foundation in 2008, Killeen was director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research for eight years. Before that, he served on the faculty and administration of the University of Michigan for more than two decades.
In a phone interview, Killeen said he’s committed to “transparency and integrity” at the Research Foundation. The foundation has been repeatedly criticized in the past for being secretive and distant from the public.
“I am definitely one who believes in transparency and integrity in everything that gets done,” Killeen said. “I see that in the Research Foundation, and I would want to stand for that as well.”
Killeen, who will make $300,000 annually for his SUNY post, is slated to begin July 9, according to SUNY.