Eric Barron's Acceptance Speech
To the Penn State Board of Trustees
February 13, 2014
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to lead this great University. I am much more than pleased to accept.
My wife, Molly, and I spent twenty years at Penn State, where I served as a faculty member, center director and dean. In that time, I learned what it meant to continually strive for excellence - to make every year stronger than the year before. I need to add - Rod Erickson was one of my mentors - and I honor him for it.
And, I also came to understand the power of this community, we are unbeatable when we are working together for a common purpose.
I have taken those two Penn State traits - the push for excellence and the power of community - everywhere that I have gone. So, in many ways, I have never left Penn State. Penn State lives here [heart) and Penn State lives here [head).
And, in true Penn State fashion, for every job that I have accepted, I have set the same goal and asked the same question of myself "how can I improve upon a great institution?" That defines my job.
It reminds me of a story that I like to tell - about learning to drive with my father. It was an experience of constantly correcting and over-correcting the steering wheel. My father said: "Eric, instead of driving by looking at the hood ornament (I know that dates me), lift your head up and look down the road and you will discover it is much easier to get where you want to go." l thought it was a driving lesson, but later l came to realize that it was a philosophy to live by.
Our job is to see down the road, to sense the future, and to ensure that this great institution is at the very forefront of success and achievement.
And, there are enormous opportunities ahead. By way of a single example, I hope you will forgive me for one more automotive analogy.
There should be a universal question in higher education today - why don't students take full advantage of the breadth and depth of opportunities at American universities? If you view Penn State as the educational version of America's sports car - perhaps a blue and white corvette - we need to ask why so many students drive it 20 miles an hour? If we can engage students in and out of the classroom, doing worthwhile activities, I guarantee that they will be happier, make better choices, have stronger resumes, and even more successful careers. So, this is a key opportunity - the opportunity to help students put this sports car through its paces.
I bet that we can do it better than any other institution, with incredibly positive outcomes for our students. One example, with more to come, with one goal - to make a great university even stronger.
Thank you again for placing your trust in me. My wife Molly and I are a team, and we intend to make you proud. Thank you. Thank you.