George Maxwell Richards, TC, CM (born 1 December 1931) is the fourth President of Trinidad and Tobago. A chemical engineer by training, Richards was Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad in 1996. He previously worked for Shell Trinidad Ltd. before joining the University of the West Indies in 1965. He was sworn into office on March 17, 2003 for a five-year term. Richards is the first Head of State in the Anglophone Caribbean of Amerindian ancestry.
"Max" Richards, as he is generally known, was born in the town of San Fernando in south Trinidad. He received his primary education there before winning an exhibition (scholarship) to attend Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain. From 1950 to 1951 he worked for the United British Oilfields of Trinidad (precursor to Shell Trinidad Ltd.) at Point Fortin. He received a scholarship from them to study chemical engineering. Richards then attended the University of Manchester (UMIST) where he took a BEng degree (1955) and an MEng degree (1957). He then obtained a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke).
Richards returned to Trinidad and worked for Shell Trinidad Ltd. from 1957 to 1965 before joining the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of the West Indies, eventually attaining the post of Professor of Chemical Engineering. From 1980 to 1985 Richards served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Principal of the University. He served as Acting Principal of the St. Augustine Campus from 1984 to 1985, and was confirmed in the position in 1985. Richards served as Principal through the turbulent period in 1988 then the government slashed the university's budget by 30% and instituted a cess on university students (effectively raising tuition from TT$120 to $3000 overnight). He managed to keep the university afloat through this difficult period and retired as Principal in 1996 although he continued to teach as Professor Emeritus until he was elected President. Richards has also served on the Boards of many Trinidad and Tobago companies including that of the state-owned oil company, Trintoc (now Petrotrin), the National Gas Company and the Trinidad Publishing Company.
Although the position of President is a primarily ceremonial one, Richards has been outspoken in his criticism of the upsurge of crime in Trinidad and Tobago. He is also well known for his involvement in Carnival.
Richards was re-elected to a second five-year term as President by the Electoral College on February 11, 2008. He was the only candidate, and the Electoral College met for only three minutes.
In 1977, Richards received the Chaconia Medal of the National Order of the Trinity, Class 1 Gold (the Chaconia Medal, Gold) for his contributions to Trinidad and Tobago. He is married to Jean Ramjohn, an anesthesiologist and cousin of the former President Noor Hassanali. They have two children: a son, Mark, who is also a medical doctor; and a daughter, Maxine, who is a businesswoman.
President Richards in May 2009 faced calls to resign for bungling the appointment of the Trinidad and Tobago Integrity Commission – whose members all resigned for various reasons within a week of being sworn in on May 1, 2009 – even as Richards embarked on a three week foreign vacation. In a televised address to the nation on May 29, 2009, he said he had not brought his office into disrepute and so saw no reason to resign.