Eric J. Barron
Eric J. Barron, former dean at Penn State and former president of Florida State University, began his presidency at Penn State on May 12, 2014.
He returned to Penn State from the helm at Florida State, bringing with him nearly 35 years of leadership experience in academic administration, education, research, and public service, and a track record as a talented manager of fiscal policy within large and complex institutions. Barron led Florida State to two consecutive U.S. News and World Report rankings as the nation’s “most efficiently operated” institution of higher education.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in geology at Florida State in 1973 before moving on to the University of Miami, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography, in 1976 and 1980, respectively. Barron spent 20 years of his career at Penn State, serving as dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006, and as founding director of the Earth System Science Center, one of the first major initiatives focused on the total study of Earth as a system, from 1986 to 2002. He also had a simultaneous appointment as director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Environment Institute from 1998 to 2002. In 1999, he was named Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Penn State, and during his tenure as director, Industry Week magazine ranked him among “50 R&D Stars to Watch.”
An accomplished scientist with a long background in atmospheric research, Barron served as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 2008 to 2010 and as dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2008. Early in his career, he was a postdoctoral research fellow and scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, a federal research center focusing on atmospheric and related science issues. He originally worked at NCAR as a postdoctoral fellow (1981–85) and served for one year on the faculty at the University of Miami before joining Penn State.
Over the decades, Barron has lent his significant expertise in the areas of atmospheric science and the geosciences to many national committees and federal organizations, including contributions as chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) science advisory board and nearly 20 years of service as the chair of multiple National Research Council committees and boards. Throughout his career he has earned numerous accolades and awards, including Penn State’s Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999); the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s (NASA) Distinguished Public Service Medal (2003); and the Bridge Builders Leadership Award from the Martin Luther King Foundation of Florida (2012).
Barron is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the Geological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has authored more than 125 peer-reviewed papers in geology, oceanography, and climate issues.