Incoming Penn State President Eric Barron will leave his current job as president of Florida State University effective April 2.
Florida State’s governing board accepted Barron’s resignation during a special meeting Wednesday at the Tallahassee, Fla., campus and discussed its plans for finding Barron’s successor. Barron, a longtime faculty member here, was hired to be Penn State’s president on Monday. He will start his new job officially May 12.
“We have big shoes to fill, and we want to hire the best person we can,” Florida State board Chairman Allan Bense said at the meeting.
In accepting Barron’s resignation, the Florida State board waived a clause in his employment contract that required him to give him 180 days’ notice of leaving the university.
The Florida State board’s action, coupled with Penn State’s board’s action, means Barron has a little more than a month to move here and shadow President Rodney Erickson, who said he would work with Barron before his official start date to ensure a smooth transition of power. The two have known one another for almost three decades, as they were both on faculties within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and both rose to administrative positions on campus.
Erickson has said he would retire by June 30. He ascended to the president’s office as the Jerry Sandusky scandal resulted in the removal of Graham Spanier as president in November 2011. It appears Erickson will stick around until right before Barron’s start date; university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Erickson plans to attend the graduation ceremonies May 9 and 10.
In Tallahassee for the meeting Wednesday, Barron apologized to his trustees that word of his departure leaked over the weekend. His name circulated on Friday, and on Saturday, he confirmed to a Tallahassee newspaper his decision to leave for Penn State.
“It certainly was not my intention to have it emerge that way,” he said.
Barron left the meeting as the Florida State trustees discussed their plans to select that school’s next president. In doing so, the Florida State trustees proposed qualities they said Barron embodied. One called him a “model president,” another said he was a good listener and another said he succeeded in raising the academic profile of Florida State.
Bense told his trustees that Barron got the offer from Penn State on Feb. 10. Barron told Bense that day, and Bense told the trustees. News reports have said Barron interviewed with Penn State’s search committee Feb. 9, so that shows how quickly Penn State’s search committee acted.
Bense didn’t hide his feelings about Penn State’s poaching of Barron, who won acclaim in Tallahassee for efforts such as improving the university’s academic standing and cutting costs by improving efficiency.
“Don’t like it, not wild about it, but it happens,” Bense said.