Rodney Erickson

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Rodney A. Erickson
17th President of the
Pennsylvania State University
In office
November 17, 2011 – May 12, 2014
November 9, 2011 – November 17, 2011
Preceded by Graham Spanier
Succeeded by Eric J. Barron
Personal details
Born 1946 (age 71–72)
Frederic, Wisconsin[1]
Alma mater University of Minnesota (B.S./M.S.)
University of Washington (Ph.D.)
Profession Academic administrator

Rodney Allen Erickson (born 1946) is an American academic administrator who served as the 17th president of Pennsylvania State University from 2011 to 2014. Formerly executive vice president and provost (chief academic officer), he was named interim president of Penn State on November 9, 2011, after previous president Graham Spanier was forced to resign in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal,[2][3] after which the "interim" tag was removed later that month.

Education and career[edit]

Erickson graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he also earned his master's degree. He earned a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Washington in 1973. After a brief tenure at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he came to Penn State as an assistant professor of geography and business administration. He was promoted to full professor in 1984. He has been part of the Penn State's administration since 1995, when he was promoted to dean of the graduate school; in 1997 he was named vice president for research. He was promoted to provost and executive vice president in July 1999.[4]

As provost, Erickson was named interim President of Penn State to replace Graham Spanier. Initial plans called for Erickson to stay on only until a permanent successor could be found. However, on November 17, 2011, the Board of Trustees removed the "interim" tag from Erickson's title and formally named him as Penn State's president. It is very unusual for American universities, especially major research universities like Penn State, to promote someone to the presidency from within. However, several trustees felt that given the gravity of the sex abuse scandal, Erickson would provide a measure of stability. Additionally, University of Virginia economist David Breneman believed it unlikely "anybody worth getting" would even consider the post if Penn State mounted a national search. Terry Hartles of the American Council of Education believed that the move was necessary as the institution needed "stable, effective leadership" and not a year-long search for a successor. Erickson received support from trustees of the university, who complimented his knowledge of academic administration and openness.[5]

On January 10, 2012, Erickson announced that he would step down from his position and retire in June 2014 at the latest.[6] A search for a successor ensued and on February 17, 2014, Eric J. Barron was announced as Penn State's next president. Erickson's last official duty as university president was presiding over the class of 2014 commencement, after which Barron assumed office as scheduled following Erickson's departure on May 12, 2014.[7]


  1. ^ American Economic Association (1974). Directory of Members. American Economic Association. 
  2. ^ Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier removed. ESPN, November 9, 2011.
  3. ^ McGill, Andrew; Assad, Matt; Sheehan, Daniel Patrick (November 10, 2011). "Penn State President Graham Spanier Resigns in Wake of Scandal". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  4. ^ "Rodney Erickson". Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ Frantz, Jeff. Is Rodney Erickson Penn State president by choice, or necessity? The Patriot-News, November 18, 2011.
  6. ^ AP, Penn State's Erickson to step down in 2014
  7. ^ "Penn State names Eric J. Barron president". Penn State University. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 

External links[edit]