PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — To applause from Penn State University’s board of trustees, Dr. Eric Barron, accompanied by his wife Molly, was unanimously elected Penn State’s 18th president.
“I never left Penn state. Penn State lives here, Penn State lives here, and it’s a great pleasure to about to live here,” Baron told the audience on Monday afternoon.
Barron taught at Penn State for 20 years and later became a dean.
He is now president of Florida State University — which football fans know just won the BCS national football championship.
“There’s something really sweet about being behind, but believing that you can march back and take it back,” Barron said on the football field after Florida State’s comeback victory.
Taking back Penn State’s glory days after the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the treatment of legendary coach Joe Paterno is a big challenge.
“Those events were incredibly painful and saddening to all those people that love Penn State University,” Barron said Monday at a press conference.
But Barron side-stepped questions about Paterno, whose statue has been put in storage.
“Whatever we do, we have to make sure we do it with a high sense of dignity and honor and sometimes that takes time,” he said.
Penn State alumnus and Steelers Hall of Famer Franco Harris, a major critic of the past university leadership, is optimistic about Barron.
“Hopefully our new president can bring us all together,” Harris told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
Harris says supporting Penn State football and restoring Paterno’s place is important.
“As he said, he needs time. We’re hoping he puts the time into this,” noted Harris.
Barron takes over in May with an annual salary of $800,000.