Eric J. Barron was named the 18th president of Penn State by the University's Board of Trustees on Monday, February 17. Dr. Barron, former dean at Penn State and current president of Florida State University, will assume the presidency on May 12, 2014. He will succeed President Rodney Erickson, who announced in 2012 his plans to retire no later than June 30, 2014.
Dr. Barron returns to Penn State from the helm at Florida State, a public university that educates nearly 41,000 students each year and boasts more than 275 degree programs across 16 academic colleges, including a law school and a college of medicine. Since he began as president in 2010, he has overseen a rise in the university's ranking among public research institutions even as the availability of public resources has continued on a long-term downward trajectory and as competition has intensified among national and international peers.
The President-elect has nearly 35 years of leadership experience in academic administration, education, research, and public service.
Dr. Barron brings with him nearly 35 years of leadership experience in academic administration, education, research, and public service, and has a track record as a talented manager of fiscal policy within large and complex institutions. As president, Dr. Barron has led the university to two consecutive U.S. News and World Report rankings as the nation's "most efficiently operated" institution of higher education.
Dr. Barron served as dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and founding director of the Earth System Science Center during his years at Penn State.
Dr. Barron earned a bachelor of science degree in geology at Florida State in 1973 before moving on to the University of Miami, where he received master's and doctoral degrees in oceanography, in 1976 and 1980, respectively. Dr. Barron spent twenty years of his career at Penn State, serving as dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006, and as founding director of the Earth System Science Center from 1986 to 2002, which was one of the first major initiatives focused on the total study of Earth as a system. He also had a simultaneous appointment as director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Environment Institute from 1998 to 2002. In 1999, he was named Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Penn State and during his tenure as director was voted by Industry Week magazine as one of "50 R&D Stars to Watch."
An accomplished scientist with a long background in atmospheric research, Dr. Barron served as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 2008 to 2010 and as dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2008. Early in his career he was a postdoctoral research fellow and scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, a federal research center focusing on atmospheric and related science issues. Dr. Barron originally worked at NCAR as a postdoctoral fellow (1981–85), and also served for one year on the faculty at the University of Miami before joining Penn State.
Over the years, Dr. Barron has lent his scientific expertise to many national committees and federal organizations.
Over the decades, Dr. Barron has lent his significant expertise in the areas of atmospheric science and the geosciences to many national committees and federal organizations, including contributions as chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) science advisory board and nearly twenty years of service as the chair of multiple National Research Council committees and boards. Throughout his career he has earned numerous accolades and awards, including Penn State's Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999); the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's (NASA) Distinguished Public Service Medal (2003); and the Bridge Builders Leadership Award from the Martin Luther King Foundation of Florida (2012).
Dr. Barron is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the Geological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has authored more than 125 peer-reviewed papers in geology, oceanography, and climate issues.