Penn State’s president studied rocks, not business.
That doesn’t matter to the Association of Public Land-grant Universities. They still want Eric Barron’s leadership.
Barron has been tapped by the APLU to chair the organization’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity.
“Public institutions of higher education are in a unique position to drive economic development, job growth and student career success — and we need to harness the incredible abilities of our students and researchers, and nurture and reward innovators and big thinkers,” Barron said.
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Barron came in to his presidency at Penn State in 2014 with innovation in mind. One of his key projects unveiled in 2015 was “Invent Penn State,” envisioned as a synergy between the university and the business community, with development of entrepreneurship by students and faculty at its heart.
That lead to a partnership with the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County and a focus on Happy Valley LaunchBox, a kind of nursery for ideas to grow into startups.
That spread from State College across Pennsylvania. The university now claims 17 “innovation hubs” statewide.
“My goal as chair of this APLU commission will be to challenge all institutions to use the resources available to them to bring discoveries to the marketplace,” Barron said in a statement.
His goals, he said, were to boost entrepreneurship and economic development through changing culture and encouraging innovation to “create a comprehensive and integrative environment for entrepreneurial activity to flourish.”
APLU Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement Jim Woodell said his organization is looking forward to Barron’s leadership.
“President Barron’s vision for entrepreneurship at Penn State — including the creation of innovation hubs statewide through the Invent Penn State initiative, and advancing student entrepreneurship — will surely help to shape CICEP’s direction, and will foster development of new strategies and practices for university partnerships for economic development and student career success,” Woodell said in a statement.