Florida State University's president is headed to Penn State.
Penn State's Board of Trustees made it official Tuesday when they voted to make Eric Barron the university's next president.
"I see opportunity everywhere I look," said Barron.
Barron says he doesn't see any barriers to advancing Penn State.
His salary will roughly double and he'll take over an institution with about four times FSU's budget.
Barron returns to Penn State where he worked for about 16 years.
He says at first he wasn't interested in the president's job there because he still had work to do at FSU.
"Including being named a preeminent university in the state of Florida," Barron said.
But Barron recently said he did express an interest.
He leaves FSU after four years as president.
"President Barron has been a fabulous president," said FSU Provost Garnett Stokes. "It's sad to see him go, but I also recognize what a great opportunity it is for him," she said.
"It is a little bit discouraging for the FSU students to see their president leave them," said FSU student Demetria Jackson. "But at the same time, we wish him the best," she said.
In a letter to FSU, Barron says the university has made great advances in his four years despite deep budget cuts.
He points out Florida State has its highest national ranking in the current 15 year old system, 40th among public universities.
Penn State is 8th on that list.
Now, the university board of trustees will begin the task of searching for a new FSU president.
"I think they need to continue to modernize," said FSU student Matthew Currie. "I think there are certain schools that might need more attention than others," he said.
We asked Stokes, who's the number two FSU administrator as provost, if she was interested in becoming president on an interim and or full time basis.
She said it's the board of trustees call and she's focusing on her job as provost.
Letter from Eric Barron to FSU
I need to communicate with you about my future plans. I would like to begin by reviewing how far we have come in the last four years.
Florida State University has emerged in a strong position, even though the recession was long and deep and the budget cuts were severe. Among the most noteworthy achievements are being named a Preeminent University, reaching our highest national ranking in the 15 years of the current ranking system (40 among publics), establishing a clear path to the Top 25 with appropriate funding, being named the most efficient university in delivering quality in the nation (two years in a row), nearing 55% completion of a billion dollar plus campaign with 45% of the time elapsed (even with a recession and the time required to hire staff at a level appropriate to a campaign), investing in a set of Big Ideas that are putting Florida State on the map, substantially increasing faculty morale, and having the highest quality set of students in our history. And, of course, we have returned to national championship status in football, and our athletic programs are at the highest level in their history in the Directors’ Cup. This is a far different picture than in 2009 when we were losing faculty to weaker schools and we were struggling to manage repeated budget cuts.
I am very proud of my University and its progress over the last four years. And so, I find myself ready for the next challenge. With the approval today of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees, I have accepted the appointment as President of Penn State University. With a budget of more than $4 billion annually, a national ranking among publics at #8, and the authority associated with the far simpler governance system of a state –related institution, I consider it a high compliment that they have asked me to lead their institution.
I am deeply appreciative of my time at Florida State University, and my love for this institution, its faculty, staff and alumni will never change. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President.
News Release: Penn State University
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 18th president of Penn State has been named by the University's Board
of Trustees. Eric J. Barron, a former dean at Penn State and current leader of Florida State University, will
begin as Penn State's next president on May 12, 2014.
After an exhaustive search, Barron was appointed today (Feb. 17) during a special meeting of the
University's Board of Trustees on the unanimous recommendation of the 14-member Trustee Presidential
Selection Council, chaired by Trustee Karen Peetz. Barron will succeed Rodney A. Erickson, who in 2012
announced his intention to retire before June 30, 2014.
History of accomplishment
Barron, 62, has served as president of Florida State University in Tallahassee since 2010. In this role, he
oversees Florida State University's 16 colleges that offer more than 275 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral,
professional and specialist degree programs, including medicine and law. Serving nearly 41,000 students,
Florida State is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State
University System of Florida.
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.
"My wife, Molly, and I spent 20 years at Penn State, where I served as a faculty member, center director
and dean. In that time, I learned what it meant to continually strive for excellence – to make every year
stronger than the year before," Barron said. "I also came to understand the power of this community, we
are unbeatable when we are working together for a common purpose. It is an honor to lead this great
Scholar, educator, administrator and researcher
"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
Trustee Peetz agreed and said that Barron's credentials and proven leadership abilities brought his name to
the top of the list. The executive search firm Isaacson, Miller contacted nearly 400 individuals regarding
the position, as well as tapping into another 150, who were asked to suggest individuals who might be
available for the position. Of particular interest to the selection committee was Barron's role leading a
doctoral research university that also has a law school and a college of medicine, as well as his strategic
plan to take Florida State University into the top 25 ranking of national public universities.
Looking toward the future
"This is certainly a pivotal time in the history of Penn State, and Eric Barron is the eminent leader that our
University needs to take us to the next level of academic excellence and national prominence," said Peetz.
"Dr. Barron has remarkable experience in so many facets of higher education and within the communities
of which he has been a part. He has demonstrated strengths in fiscal matters, strategic planning, leadership
and communication, and his track record for partnering with the community is stellar."
While leading Florida State University, Barron directed the university's rise to a U.S. News & World
Report ranking as the most efficiently operated university in the nation.
From 2008 to 2010, Barron served as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR),
a prominent federally funded research and development laboratory in Boulder, Colo., devoted to service,
research and education in the atmospheric and related sciences. Barron had previously been a scientist at
NCAR from 1981 to 1985.
Before his NCAR directorship, Barron was dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University
of Texas-Austin, from 2006-2008, where he oversaw the task of building a school that just four years
before had received a single gift of $282 million for the purpose of creating a school of geosciences. A
major research university, the University of Texas at Austin is the largest institution in the University of
Texas system and is home to more than 50,000 students.
In the previous two decades, Barron was a familiar figure at Penn State. From 1986 to 2006, he served in
various positions at Penn State, including 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. He also earned the title of distinguished professor of geosciences at Penn State, and was named
winner of both the Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999) and the Wilson Award for
Excellence in Research (1992) in recognition of both his scholarly distinction and his outstanding
teaching. Barron came to Penn State after one year on the faculty of the University of Miami.
He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical
Union, the American Meteorological Society and the Geological Society of America. Barron is a highly
recognized scientist and has received a number of national awards as a scholar, researcher and
distinguished lecturer, including NASA Group Achievement Award and NASA Distinguished Public
His expertise in the areas of climate, environmental change and oceanography, among other earth science
topics, have led to extensive service for the federal government and the international community. He has
served as a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is a member
of its science advisory board; a member of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, director's advisory
committee; and chair, Committee on Ocean Infrastructure Strategy for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030.
Barron brings to Penn State nearly 35 years of experience in academic administration, education, research
and public service, as well as fiscal management within large and complex institutions.
Barron, who was at the board meeting Monday, said that he looks forward to again working with Penn
State faculty, staff, students and alumni in advancing Penn State's core mission.
"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 appointment of Dr. Barron as Penn State's next president ensures an excellent future for our
University," said Dean Ann (Nan) Crouter, chairman of the University Presidential Search and Screen
Committee, an 18-member group composed of students, faculty and staff. "He has been an outstanding
faculty member, highly regarded researcher and an administrator who understands the roles and dynamics
of the academic community. He has a remarkable record in building enrollment while ensuring academic
excellence and diversity, and his desire to be inclusive in his decision making is something that is very
important to our community."
A native of Lafayette, Ind., Barron received a bachelor of science degree in geology from Florida State
University, a master's degree and Ph.D, both in oceanography, from the University of Miami, Coral
The president-elect and his wife, Molly, an educator, will live in Schreyer House on the University Park
campus. The Barrons have two grown children, Emily and James.
Associated Press News Alert
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State trustees name Eric Barron president; former PSU dean was Florida State leader.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State trustees are poised to vote on a new president for Pennsylvania's largest university.
Officials have not identified the candidate who's expected to be introduced at Monday's special meeting at the Penn Stater conference center on the outskirts of State College.
On Saturday, Florida State University President Eric Barron -- a former professor and dean at Penn State -- shocked FSU trustees by publicly talking about leaving the school in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.
Penn State trustees have not confirmed whether Barron was under consideration and have been tight-lipped about the 15-month process of recruiting a successor to President Rodney Erickson, who plans to retire in June.
Barron worked at Penn State for 20 years, including four as dean of its College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.