Penn State President Rodney Erickson announced plans for his retirement on January 11, 2012. 757 days later, and Penn State found its man to replace him.
“In many ways, I never left Penn State,” Barron said in his opening remarks. “Thank you for the honor of leading this truly great university…My wife (Molly) and I are a team…and we intend to make you very proud.”
The Board of Trustees met in a special session this morning to announce its new president and approve Barron’s contract. News first broke on Friday that the former Penn State dean and current Florida State President would be returning to the university at which he spent 20 years from 1986-2006. The Board approved Barron’s five-year contract unanimously. The President-elect is set to receive $800,000 annually, with an upfront $200,000 transition bonus and $1 million at the completion of his term.
Barron received a standing ovation after his approval by both the trustees and members of the public. His contract begins on May 12 — the Monday after commencement — although he may begin the transition into the Schreyer House early.
“I came to understand the power of community at Penn State,” Barron said of his time as a faculty member. “We are simply unbeatable when we’re working together for a common purpose. I’ve taken those two Penn State traits — the push for excellence and the power of community — everywhere I have gone. ”
The President-elect wouldn’t get into many specifics about his priorities or initiatives, saying only that he would maintain a “student-centered attitude” and that he would formulate more concrete goals when he has time to transition and learn the university again.
“I am thrilled to take on the leadership role of one of the nation’s most prestigious universities,” Barron said. “Penn State, already well-known for its high academic standards, its innovative research, global vision and unmatched public service, is well-positioned for the future and for creating more opportunities for students, as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The 18-member search and screen committee contacted nearly 400 candidates during the entire process, and it finally settled on Barron “fairly recently.”
“In Eric Barron, we have found a president who is energetic, innovative and dedicated to maximizing the potential of our great institution,” said Board Chairman Keith Masser in introducing Barron to the board. “Dr. Barron has a track record as an accomplished educator, highly respected researcher, an effective administrator and an internationally recognized scholar. It is clear that Eric Barron is not only familiar with our University, but also has the experience and knowledge to lead us forward, continuing our path of excellence.”
We’re looking forward to a new era of responsible and steadfast leadership at Penn State. Welcome home, President Barron.