Penn State is poised to hire new president on Monday

Eric Barron. (c/o Wikipedia)

UPDATE (5:30 p.m.) - Sources have confirmed that Penn State's next president will be Eric J. Barron, president of Florida State University. He was formerly the dean of PSU's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and has master's and doctoral degress from the University of Miami and is a native of Lafayette, Ind.


Pennsylvania State University is poised to hire a new president at a special meeting of the board of trustees at noon on Monday in State College, a source has confirmed.

The new president is not an internal candidate, the source said. Officials declined to name the new president.

The announcement comes about three and a half months after the university’s previous attempt to hire a president blew up when it was discovered the candidate faced allegations of receiving unauthorized pay.

The new Penn State president — the university’s 18th — will replace Rodney Erickson, who has led the the 96,000-student, 24-campus university since Graham B. Spanier was forced out in November 2011 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Erickson, whose salary is $600,000, has said he will leave by June 30.

Penn State’s new leader arguably will step into one of the most high profile presidencies in the nation, leading a university still smarting from the scandal involving Sandusky, the former assistant football coach now serving a prison term for molesting boys on and off campus. He or she will have to deal with a board, still divided over the handling of the scandal, and an angry alumni base.

The new president will be in charge of a 44,000-employee enterprise that operates on an annual budget of more than $4 billion and that has had to cope with flat or declining state funding in recent years.

The university launched a national search for a new president last winter, including gathering input from faculty, staff and students on what they wanted to see in the next president. Penn State also hired the executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller to help with the search. Nearly 400 people were contacted about the position, and an additional 150 were asked to suggest candidates, the school said.

In late October, the university set a meeting to hire a new president, but then abruptly canceled it. The Albany (N.Y.) Times Union subsequently reported that the university had planned to hire David R. Smith, president of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, until Penn State officials learned that he faced allegations of accepting $349,295 in payments from outside sources on top of his $625,000 in compensation from SUNY.

Penn State has refused to acknowledge that Smith was their pick. Board Chair Keith Masser had confirmed that there was a candidate but that things happened beyond the control of the committee and candidate. He said the board would look at current candidates as well as new ones going forward.

Since then, university officials have been mum about the new hire.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel and be streamed live at

It seems to be a very good week for hiring college presidents. Two other local colleges, Bryn Mawr and Cabrini, also hired new presidents this week.