STATE COLLEGE, Pa.
Eric Barron, a former professor and dean at Penn State University and president of Florida State University, was chosen Monday to lead Pennsylvania’s largest university as it continues grappling with fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He’ll bring with him the experience of managing a major state university known as much for its storied athletic program as its academic mission, as well as the fallout from a sex-abuse scandal with ties to big-time college football.
Penn State trustees unanimously approved the selection at a special meeting in State College after a 15-month search process in which university officials had kept the new president’s identity secret, refusing to confirm whether Barron was even being considered until the meeting began.
Barron, who worked at Penn State for 20 years, including four as dean of its College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will succeed President Rodney Erickson, who plans to retire when his contract expires in June. Barron is getting a five-year contract worth $1 million a year and will start in May, if not sooner.
Erickson, Penn State’s former provost and executive vice president, was named president in November 2011 after then-president Graham Spanier was forced out after child molestation accusations against Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts for the sexual abuse of 10 boys. Spanier was later charged in an alleged cover-up.
Barron called the Sandusky scandal painful and saddening but focused on the changes it has brought.