Eric and Molly Barron create EMS Trustee Scholarships, benefit Arboretum

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s 18th President, Eric J. Barron, and his wife, Molly, have committed to give $150,000 to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and The Arboretum at Penn State. Part of the gift will be used to create two Trustee Scholarships in the college, and $50,000 will name the Bedrock Boulders collection in the Children’s Garden at the Arboretum.

The Barrons’ two scholarships, the Jim and “Mel” Barron Trustee Scholarship and the Walin and Dorothy Hatter Trustee Scholarship, are named for the couple’s parents. The scholarships will be awarded to students with financial need in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) is very grateful for both of the Trustee Scholarships that Eric and Molly created in honor of their parents,” said William Easterling, dean of the college. “Their investment in education will help make a Penn State education accessible to all qualified students regardless of their financial means. Their gifts are yet another example of their commitment to Penn State, EMS and our students.”

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. For Trustee Scholarships created through June 30, 2014, Penn State will provide an annual 10 percent match of the total pledge or gift. This level is an increase from the program’s original match of 5 percent, and it is available only for new endowments of $50,000 or more.

The University match, which is approximately double the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need.

The Bedrock Boulders collection in The Arboretum at Penn State will be located right inside the entrance to the new Children’s Garden. The collection will consist of naturally weathered boulders, collected locally in central Pennsylvania, representing the limestone and sandstone bedrock commonly found in the region. Once in the garden, they will be arranged visually to depict the valleys, ridges, and land formations that create the landscape of central Pennsylvania. The feature will be used as an educational tool for visitors of all ages in the garden.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Barrons for naming this part of the Arboretum,” said Kim Steiner, director of The Arboretum. “With its prominent location in the Children’s Garden, this visually fascinating feature will draw a lot of attention and offers a great opportunity to teach children and adults about the geologic history of our local landscape. The Barrons’ gift reflects their deep commitment to education for people of all ages and to Penn State’s mission of outreach to our visitors.”

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 has nearly 35 years of leadership experience in academic administration, education, research and public service.

“Philanthropy is one of the main reasons why Penn State is such a great institution, and we thought it was only right to build upon this tradition when we returned,” said Barron. “Molly and I are both keenly interested in ensuring that education is accessible. The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and the Arboretum serve as great starting points to promote accessibility and for the many other ways we hope to make an impact at this University in the future.”

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 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. In addition to numerous awards and honors, 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.

Molly Barron, a former teacher, was active in the State College Area School District during her husband's previous tenure at Penn State, acting as president of the PTO, a volunteer in the library, a kindergarten aide and substitute. She held a position in the district's middle school technology program.

The Barrons’ gifts will support For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, an effort directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families.

Last Updated June 19, 2014