USA Today reports: “Florida State University president Eric Barron will take over as the head of Pennsylvania State University in May, Penn State’s trustees announced Monday.”
Barron, 62, a former Penn State professor and dean, will succeed Rodney Erickson, who replaced Graham Spanier in 2011 after a child sexual abuse scandal rocked the campus. Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of the sexual abuse of 10 boys. Spanier, who was forced out of the presidency, was charged in an alleged cover-up. A trial date for Spanier and two other former administrators who were accused of a criminal cover-up has not been scheduled. Erickson plans to retire in June.
As he was introduced as Penn State’s next president, Eric Barron compared the university to a “blue and white Corvette,” but questioned why students don’t drive it at full speed.
“If we can engage students in and outside of the classroom, then I’m absolutely convinced that they’ll be happier, they’ll make better choices in life, they’ll have stronger resumes, and they’ll get better jobs,” Barron told Penn State trustees, former colleagues and friends Monday.
“My bet is that Penn State can do this better than any other institution with incredibly positive outcomes for our students.”
Barron, a longtime faculty member, will return to Penn State to be the university’s 18th president, and he delivered the student-centric, optimistic remarks in his acceptance speech after the board of trustees unanimously approved his appointment Monday afternoon. He will succeed Rodney Erickson, who took over at the start of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and will retire this summer.
Barron, who has led Florida State since February 2010, has substantial ties to Penn State. As PSU says in its announcement, “before his presidency at Florida State University, Barron held a number of notable positions within higher education, including dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006, having become a member of the Penn State faculty in 1986.”
At a midday news conference, Barron had this to say, according to PennLive.com:
“How do you make a great institution even better? That defines my job.”