Monday, February 17, 2014

Welcome, Eric J. Barron, president-elect of Penn State, With Gloss

Today, Eric J. Barron was named the 18th President of Penn State and will assume responsibilities for the presidency on May 12, 2014. Dr. Barron has served as the president of Florida State University in Tallahassee since 2010, and has held several notable positions within government and higher education, including dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006. Below is information related to his appointment by the Board of Trustees.

Congratulations are in order. But also a reminder of the tasks that await this next office holder. I can only hope that our next president:

(1) will move decisively away from a business as usual governance style grounded in the old administrative cultures at Penn State,

(2) will avoid the false comfort of well worn clubby habits of governance that could sometimes seem bewildering to those outside the insiders' governance club, and

(3) will avoid the easy temptations of corporatization and bland leadership by benchmark that mark a safe administration but that wastes opportunities to move the institution to the ranks of global elite universities and disrespects the combined talents of this extraordinary institution. 

I have no doubt that our new president will accomplish the tasks he faces with an increased sensitivity to transparency, something that this university still has failed to appropriately embrace, with a commitment to greater engagement, and with deep respect for shared governance and the public mission of the university.

With this in mind, best wishes for a successful presidency.

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