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Meet Dr. Eric J. Barron, Penn State’s New President

Penn State has a new president. Though we’ll have to wait until Monday  to officially meet him, Onward State broke the news that Dr. Eric J. Barron, the current president of the Florida State University, will succeed Rodney Erickson as Penn State’s 18th president.

Originally from Lafayette, Indiana, Barron earned his undergraduate degree with honors from Florida State University, receiving a B.S. in geology in 1973. He later received his master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography from the University of Miami in 1976 and 1980, respectively.

From 1986 to 2002, Dr. Barron was employed by Penn State where he was a professor of geosciences, director of the Earth System Science Center, director of the EMS Environmental Institute and dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Barron served as dean of the newly formed Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2008, and was the director of the  National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, from 2008 to 2010.

On February 1st, 2010, Barron became the president of FSU, and in his time there he oversaw a $1 billion dollar capital campaign, and spearheaded efforts to accommodate student-veterans with the establishment of a Veterans center. During his tenure, Florida State was named one of the two pre-eminent universities in the state of Florida, as well as earning a U.S. News & World Report ranking as the most efficiently operated university in the nation.

Throughout his career, Barron has served as chairman for numerous committees in service to the U.S. government, including the ASA Senior Review for the Earth Sciences in 2005. As well as having testified before Congress, he has chaired committees and panels of the National Research Council since 1987 and currently chairs “An Ocean Infrastructure for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030.”

Barron has stated he is committed to the full spectrum of academic disciplines, saying he is “an ardent supporter and advocate for the full spectrum of excellence in the arts and humanities, sciences, law, business and medicine.”

Through his professional career, Barron has received many awards through research, as well as a scholar and renowned lecturer. Additionally, he has been an editor or member of editorial boards of numerous academic journals, as well as having works published himself. Dr. Barron is a fellow in the American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the Geological Society of America.

Barron is married to his wife, Molly, and has two grown children and one grandchild.

The Board of Trustees are expected to approve the hire Monday morning before a public announcement at noon. Barron will replace current Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who is set to retire by June 1, but may retire early with this announcement.

About the Author

Grant Brown

Grant is the Internal Manager for Onward State, and to be entirely honest we're not quite sure what that means. When not OnwardStating, Grant spends way too much time in the student government (UPUA) office, making failed attempts at being funny, and playing music loudly in open, public forums.


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