Optimism running high as PSU picks Barron as President

Eric Barron. (c/o Wikipedia)

Update: It's official. Eric J. Barron has been unanimously approved as Penn State's next president.

More details to come.

Here's the previous post:

Optimism is running high at Pennsylvania State University with the board of trustees less than an hour away from voting to hire Florida State University President Eric J. Barron as the new president.

“This is an important day in the life of the university,” said Michael Paul, director of space systems initiatives at the university's Applied Research Lab. “I’m really glad it’s come to a good conclusion.”

Staff and students said they are hopeful Barron will lead the university, still hurting from the child sex abuse scandal, into a positive new era.

Paul is especially pleased with Barron, a well-known scientist who specializes in climatology and who worked at Penn State for 20 years.

“At a university where science is such a prominent field, having someone like him is great,” Paul said.

Not to mention the Barron heads a university in Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center. Paul is leading Penn State’s efforts to be the first college to land a space craft on the moon.

At the student center on Penn State’s campus, many students were cramming for tests and knew little about the important hire about to take place on their campus. But those who did said they were hoping for a positive change and especially liked Barron’s long-standing ties to the university.

“It’s good they’re bringing back someone who has been here previously,” said Caitlin, Lesko, a senior nutrition major from Weatherly. “It’s known that he has the established Penn State values.”

Barron, a Florida State graduate who led that university for almost four years, worked at Penn State as a professor of geosciences and eventually the dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“I like the Penn State ties, someone who understands the school,” said Adam Bielski, a junior chemical engineering major from Williamsport. “That’s very important to Penn Staters, someone who has been there and knows what this place feels like.”

What he wants to see most from Barron is “honesty” and “integrity,” he said.

Dan Kienzle, a sophomore industrial engineering major from Chalfont, wants to see a strong leader.

“We need that to unify the student body,” he said.

Alex Stetson, a freshman from Berwyn, is glad to see someone other than the current president, Rodney Erickson. She said she didn’t like the way Erickson led the university in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandal.

“I wasn’t a big fan,” said Stetson, who took just a moment away from studying for her physics exam to talk about the prospect of a new president.

Meghan Callahan, a sophomore engineering major from Drexel Hill, also said her major focus at this point is academics.

But she hopes the new president brings a positive attitude.

“We just really need stability at this point,” she said.