Longtime FSU Administrator John Carnaghi Dies at 67

Feb 21, 2013

Longtime Florida State University administrator John Carnaghi has died. Carnaghi was a beloved member of the Tallahassee community and helped oversee a 22 year period of growth at FSU.

When John Carnaghi came to Florida State University in 1991, it was a far cry from the institution that exists today.

“The grounds weren’t clean. We didn’t have the kind of plants and flowers you see today. We didn’t have our accounts in order, there was no decent parking,” said former FSU President Sally D’Alemberte.

We’d go to Board of Regents meetings, and the item on the agenda was ‘FSU Band Audit’. And John kept working at that, and working at that, until there were no more bad audits.”

D’Alemberte, who came to FSU in 1994 worked with Carnaghi, to completely re-do Florida state, including an ambitious construction program, cleaning up the school’s financial books and ultimately, laying the foundation for an institution that has become one of the best in Florida and the nation. Carnaghi was devoted to the university and his job, but as D’Alemberte recalls, he liked to host functions for the university’s grounds and maintenance staff:

“John had a karaoke machine. And he made a memorable performance of the Purple People eater...it wasn’t the greatest musical performance ever given on this campus, but it was damn entertaining.”   

Current Florida State University President Eric Barron says Carnaghi, “poured his heart and should into the university.”

Barron says without Carnaghi, FSU wouldn’t be the school it is today:

“There’s no part of the university, when you’re in that role, that you’re not touching. We got listed as the most efficient, high-quality institution in the country and you’re not at that level of efficiency if you’re not a well-oiled machine.”    

Barron says the school is planning to name a building in his honor. Carnaghi died Wednesday evening following complications from surgery. He had pancreatic cancer and had retired from his post as Vice President for Finance and Administration earlier in the month. He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Southern Illinois, and a master’s at Purdue University. Before coming to FSU, he spent 10 years as vice chancellor for financial affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.

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John Carnaghi, Florida State University's former Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, has died.

Carnaghi, 67,  stepped down from his post earlier in the month. He had been battling Cancer.

The longtime FSU Administrator arrived at the University back in 1991 and helped steer the school out of financial troubles and into one of the top institutions in Florida and the United States.  He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Southern Illinois, and a master’s at Purdue University. Before coming to FSU, he spent 10 years as vice chancellor for financial affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.

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From Florida State University:

It is with deep sadness that I share with you the news that our long-time colleague, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration John Carnaghi died last evening.

John has been the heart and soul of a 22-year legacy at Florida State – directing more than 1,300 staff that worked very hard to provide the vision, services and oversight of the institution’s financial and administrative infrastructure that has made Florida State University an example for others to emulate.

When John was named an Outstanding Young Man in America more than 31 years ago, he was already setting the course for a legacy of dynamic leadership and innovation in managing organizational change.

It is no surprise to any of us that often universities from across the nation have called upon John to share his insight, such as the members of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).

As we take a moment to honor the loss of a dear colleague and servant leader, we might recall John’s energetic smile as he would jog up the stairs of Westcott each morning or salute his business acumen – or we might simply remember the privilege of serving with a true colleague.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family: John’s wife, Judy; his son, Jason; daughter-in-law, Amy; and to his grandson, Jackson “Jack”, whose proud smile can be seen in the countless photographs that line the bookshelves in John’s office.

We will provide more information from John’s family regarding a service as well as how we might honor John’s legacy.

--Eric J. Barron

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