Our opinion: A new man at Penn State
Because of its size and its long-standing national reputation in athletics, the Pennsylvania State University- Penn State to everyone except the guy who prints the letterhead – has been the most recognized educational symbol of the Keystone State.
Mention the University of Pennsylvania – an Ivy League school no less – and people will likely pause and say, “Oh, yeah, that other school.”
Penn State is the giant. So, when the giant stumbled nearly two years ago in a scandal so shocking that it brought charges against the highest levels of administration, it shook the whole state.
With the charges against its former president and two high-level administration officials still pending trial, the University has managed to weather a storm, while at the same time selecting new long-term leadership.
On Monday, the university’s Board of Trustees announced the hiring of Eric Barron, a former PSU professor and dean and currently president of Florida State University, to take the reins of the institution where he got his collegiate administration start.
Few university administrators in America are so uniquely qualified to fill the bill at Penn State, a university with unique challenges in the wake of the aforementioned scandal.
He is keenly aware of the importance of an athletic program that gives a university its face, and the potential for disaster that a sex scandal can bring; FSU dodged a similar, though much smaller caliber, bullet with regard to unfounded allegations against a former football player.
He is aware of the PSU’s reverence for its late football coach, who was fired not long before his death, in Jerry Sandusky sex scandal purge. His sidestep of a question about Coach JoePa, still regarded as the patron saint of Penn State by many of its current and former students, was a measured amount of genuflection and noncommitment.
Barron’s contract calls for a million dollars a year for the next five years. He certainly has the credentials and the work experience to deliver everything the Board of Trustees wants in a president.