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Penn State Board of Trustees Hires Barron as Next University President

by on February 17, 2014 11:53 AM

The Penn State Board of Trustees formally hired Eric Barron as the 18th president of the university.

The board approved the hiring of Barron, who currently serves as president at Florida State University, at a special public meeting Monday afternoon following an executive session.

With a voice vote at the Penn Stater Conference Center, the board unanimously approved the hiring.

The five-year contract begins May 12, with the opportunity for Barron to start sooner, with an annual salary of $800,000. The contract also includes a one-time payment of $200,000 upon hire followed by a $200,000 retention payment at the end of the year for the last four years of the contract. Upon completion of the five-year contract, the university will pay Barron $1 million.

"We intend to make you very proud," Barron said, referring to himself and his wife, Molly.

Barron worked at Penn State for 20 years, leaving eight years ago. He was a professor of geosciences, director of the Earth System Science Center, director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Environmental Institute, and dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Barron became Florida State University's 14th president in 2010. He graduated from FSU in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in geology. He has master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Miami.

He previously served as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. He also served as dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2008.

With the hire of Barron, it appears current President Rodney Erickson will be ending his temporary position in the near term.

Erickson assumed responsibilities as president of Penn State on Nov. 9, 2011, following the indictment of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Previously, Erickson served as Penn State's executive vice president and provost.

Erickson replaced Graham Spanier following Spanier's Nov. 9, 2011 exit. Spanier served as president for 16 years.

Spanier, along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz face multiple criminal charges, including perjury and failing to report child abuse related to Sandusky.

A judge later sentenced Sandusky to 30-60 years in prison for sexually abusing boys.

Erickson's short-term contract with Penn State, dated Nov. 10, 2011, ends June 30, 2014, or earlier if both parties agree. The contact included a $515,000 annual salary, which increased following a Board of Trustees evaluation. Erickson's salary increased in December 2012 by $85,000 to $600,000.

Erickson is perhaps best known for signing the consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA, which was an agreement to harsh university sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

The sanctions included a $60 million fine that is slated to go toward prevention of child sexual abuse and assist victims, a four-year ban on participation in bowl games, and a reduction in football scholarships.

As provost, Erickson was chief academic officer of the university, responsible for administration of the university's instruction, research and continuing education, and for the general welfare of the faculty and students. As executive vice president, Erickson served as the chief executive officer in the president's absence.



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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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