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Penn State Board of Trustees Names Food Science Building After Outgoing President Erickson, Approves Emeritus Status

by on May 09, 2014 3:07 PM

Outgoing Penn State President Rod Erickson made his final appearance Friday before the Penn State Board of Trustees where the board voted to name a building after Erickson and approves emeritus status.

Honoring Erickson's tenure, the board approved a motion Friday to name the Food Science building at University Park after Erickson.

"I'm very moved by this gesture. I can't think of a better way to recognize my roots in agriculture and my love for ice cream," Erickson says.

Additionally, the board approved emeritus status for Erickson, which recognizes his work in the academic field. The board also approved a $50,000 going-away bonus for Erickson and named Erickson to serve a three-year term on the board for the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Erickson presented his final university report to the board at the Penn Stater Conference Center.

"I want to say what a privilege it has been to lead this institution as president and to contribute as a teacher, researcher and administrator over the course of my career," Erickson says. "I'm very proud of the ambitious work underway on our campuses throughout the commonwealth, and it has been a great honor to work with dedicated Penn Staters from all walks of life."

Erickson says student applications have increased during his tenure, saying as of May 5 undergraduate applications at University Park hit more than 81,000; which is 14 percent higher than last year. To date, he says more than 17,000 students have accepted Penn State's offers, roughly 600 more than last year and about 1,200 more than in 2012.

Erickson told the board it was a privilege to work at Penn State.

"Penn State has been a wonderful place to grow personally and professionally. And I know that you will continue to pursue quality and excellence in everything you do," Erickson says. "Our distinguished alumnus and benefactor Bill Schreyer perhaps said it best, 'It feels good to be a Penn Stater. You feel like you belong to a great institution that is only getting better.'

Board member Kenneth Frazier praised Erickson's performance at Penn State, saying Erickson exhibited courageousness when he took on the role of president at a challenging time for the university.

"I don't think any of us would have chosen that particular means of transition," says Frazier.

Erickson assumed responsibilities as president of Penn State on Nov. 9, 2011, following the indictment of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Erickson replaced Graham Spanier, who served as president for 16 years.

Authorities later charged Spanier, along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, with multiple criminal charges, including perjury and failing to report child abuse for allegedly covering up the Sandusky scandal. Sandusky, now a convicted pedophile, is serving 30 to 60 years in state prison.

Erickson is perhaps best known for signing the decree between Penn State and the NCAA, which allowed the NCAA to impose sweeping sanctions on the university's football program.

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 programs, and for the general welfare of the faculty and students.

Erickson's short-term contract with Penn State, dated Nov. 10, 2011, was written to end June 30, 2014, or earlier if both parties agreed.

Eric Barron, former president of Florida State University, will replace Erickson.

Barron's five-year contract begins Monday at 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 an additional $1 million.

Barron worked at Penn State for 20 years. 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.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. 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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