Penn State Names 18th President

By Mallory Lane

Published 02/17 2014 05:54PM

Updated 02/17 2014 06:10PM

PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - It's official. Penn State University names its 18th president Monday.

The Board of Trustees decision Monday was unanimous. Dr. Eric Barron will officially take office May 12, 2014, with a five-year contract through June 30, 2019.

Dr. Barron is no stranger to Penn State, as a former faculty member and Dean of the University's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He comes to Penn State from Florida State University where he currently serves as president.

Barron is highly praised by the Board of Trustees. While publicly accepting the position Monday, Dr. Barron answered several questions, including how he feels the university handled the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

"It's a great honor to welcome Eric and Molly Barron back to Penn State," BOT Chair Keith Masser said.

This is Penn State's new leader.

"Our job, all of our job, is to see down the road, sense the future and ensure that this great institution is at the forefront of success and achievement," Barron said.

Dr. Eric Barron will serve as the university's 18th president, with a salary of $800,000 per year, under a five-year term.

The board's vote was unanimous Monday, but the decision didn't come before a word of advice from board member Anthony Lubrano.

"Dare to be great," Lubrano said. "Recognize however, that this will not be easy. You join us at a time when many in the Penn State community are still deeply hurting and the elephant in the room remains the same as it did November 9, 2011. A man named Paterno."

Dr. Barron says he believes Penn State is past the Sandusky scandal and has become a role model on how to deal with the challenges that came with it.

"The compliance process alone is so incredibly complex, I think that what you're going to see is a lot of people are going to look at Penn State and say those people know how to do it," he said.

He says he believes in institutions honoring due process and letting those in the court system do their jobs moving forward.

"I don't like to sell things that I"m not proud of," Barron said. "I'm incredibly proud of this institution and I think we're going to watch and see that the pride in this institution will grow because you're looking at so many different levels of excellence."

Barron says engaging students is his number one priority to change Penn State's culture.

"If we can engage students in and outside of the classroom, then I'm absolutely convinced that they'll be happier, they'll make better choices in life, they'll have stronger resumes and they'll get better jobs. This is a key opportunity," he said.

Barron says he and his wife, Molly, will work as a team to move the university forward. Current President Rodney Erickson says he will offer support throughout Barron's transition.

Barron also says he will take time to review how to handle honoring Joe Paterno.

"The wisest answer is to tell you to give me time, okay? I watched all of his great strengths as a faculty member and as a dean and as someone who loves this institution," he said. "But in my view, whatever we do, we have to make sure that we do it with a high sense of dignity and honor and sometimes that takes time."

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