Richmond is President Emeritus Humboldt State University. Prior to his appointment in 2002, he had a distinguished career as a faculty member, researcher in evolutionary biology and academic administrator. He was provost of Iowa State University from 1999-2002; was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook from 1995-1999; and was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida from 1990-1995. He served on the faculty of the Department of Biology at Indiana University in Bloomington for twenty years and also served as department chair.
Richmond received a Ph.D. in genetics from the Rockefeller University and a bachelorís degree in zoology from San Diego State University.