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Penn State University picks new president

Updated: Monday, February 17 2014, 12:55 PM EST

By: WJAC Web Staff and The Associated Press

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania State University has picked a new president, and he is a familiar face on the Centre County campus.

Members of the PSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to approve Eric Barron, 62, as the school's 18th president. He will replace President Rodney Erickson, who announced plans to retire.

Barron comes from Florida State University, having spent four years as the leader of the Seminoles. Previously, Barron spent 20 years at Penn State from 1986 to 2006, including four years as head of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Barron's contract will begin May 12 and run through June 30, 2019, the university said. His base salary is $800,000 annually.

Barron's contract also includes a one-time $200,000 transition payment and if he completes the full five-year contract term PSU will award him an additional $1 million retention payment.

WJAC-TV news partner the Centre Daily Times reported Barron arrived on the University Park campus at about 10 a.m. and said he felt "wonderful" to have returned to Penn State.

It has been a 15-month process to hire a new president for Pennsylvania's largest university. There was widespread speculation that BOT was to name a new president in November, but that fell through and an announcement was not made.

Board member Karen Peetz reported at the meeting that 400 people were contacted about filling the position with an additional 150 people asked to suggested possible candidates to fill the job.

Barron's return to Happy Valley hadn't been the best-kept secret over the past week, despite university officials refusing to directly talk about the decision. Barron publicly spoke about leaving FSU in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper over the weekend.

READ MORE: Penn State news release on Barron's background.

Barron has been president at FSU for four years and has been responsible for overseeing the university's $1 billion capital campaign, according to his biography on the Florida State University website.

Barron has also served as the director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. and was the dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2008.

Erickson became the PSU president following the initial fallout surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The BOT released Graham Spanier as president in November 2011, selecting Erickson to take over the school’s leadership.

6 News reporter Gary Sinderson was at today's board of trustees meeting. Watch for his reports beginning on 6 News at 5.

Penn State University picks new president

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