December 09, 2009
Dec. 8 -- The Florida State University Board of Trustees today selected alumnus Eric J. Barron, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, to serve as the university's 14th president.
Barron, 58, succeeds T.K. Wetherell, who became president in 2003 and guided Florida State to record heights before announcing in June his intention to retire.
"I am extremely gratified and honored to return to my alma mater and serve as its next president," Barron said. "This is an outstanding university that is poised to become one of the finest in the world, and I look forward to helping it reach that goal."
Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Smith reported to the trustees overwhelmingly positive comments in support of Barron from the 19-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee, which he chaired. That group had interviewed three finalists out of 26 applicants before forwarding the results of its review to the trustees.
"Under Dr. Wetherell's leadership, Florida State University advanced as one of the nation's top public graduate research universities," Smith said. "Now, it is well-positioned to vault to the next level, and the Board of Trustees is extremely pleased to be able to select Dr. Barron as the leader who will take us there.
"His national prominence in his field, his extensive fundraising experience and his superlative administrative skills are an excellent fit for Florida State."
Barron earned a bachelor's degree in geology from FSU as an honors student in 1973. He holds master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Miami, both in oceanography.
He has been director of the highly prominent national laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., since 2008.
In his first year there, he developed a strategic plan to address budget challenges that was praised by the National Science Foundation for its transparency and commitment to the future. This year, the center had its greatest annual budget increase in nearly a decade.
Prior to taking the position at NCAR, Barron was dean of the newly formed Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. That school currently is executing a strategic plan developed while he was dean that expanded the faculty, transformed student recruitment and services, developed a lifelong connection to alumni and created a stronger sense of community.
From 1986 to 2006, Barron was at Pennsylvania State University, where he was professor of geosciences, director of the Earth System Science Center, director of the EMS Environment Institute, and finally dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. While he was dean, his college led all other colleges at Penn State in research expenditures per faculty member, it excelled at teaching and it emerged as an innovative leader on campus in a renewed focus on students and student services.
Barron is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the Geological Society of America. He has received many national awards as a scholar, researcher and distinguished lecturer, has published extensively and has been editor or a member of the editorial boards of a dozen academic journals. He has testified before Congress and has chaired numerous committees in service to the federal government, such as the NASA Senior Review for the Earth Sciences in 2005. He has chaired committees and panels of the National Research Council since 1987 and currently chairs "An Ocean Infrastructure for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030."
A highly visible scientist, Barron stressed his commitment to the full spectrum of academic disciplines, saying he is "an ardent supporter and advocate for the full spectrum of excellence in the arts and humanities, sciences, law, business and medicine."
A native of Lafayette, Ind., Barron has two grown children. He said he and his wife, Molly, are "a partnership" and that she will be an active participant in supporting Florida State University while he is president.
Source: Florida State University
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