Barron delivers annual ‘State of the University’ address

Florida State University President Eric J. Barron

President Eric J. Barron compared Florida State University’s past few years of budget cuts and faculty departures to the geological stresses that result in the formation of brilliant gemstones such as garnet during the annual State of the University Address at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the General Faculty on Oct. 24.

“A gemstone is what epitomizes this university,” said Barron, who pointed to the fact that even though the university’s financial resources ranking has slipped from 204 to 212, its quality ranking among all universities is 97 and among public universities is 42.

“We are extraordinarily efficient,” he said.

About 100 current and emeritus faculty members, university administrators, trustees and guests attended the meeting at the August B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center. It also was webcast live.

Barron praised Florida State’s outstanding students who boast an incoming GPA of a just under 4.0, as well as myriad opportunities for students, such as in the “Big 8” areas of STEM — physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science, engineering, environmental science and psychology.

“Florida State is the top in the state in external support in four of these areas,” Barron said. “We are Florida’s STEM university.”

Barron also claimed that no other Florida university can best Florida State in the arts or in the number of doctoral degrees awarded.

Along with the reference to garnet, Barron threw in a little gold by recognizing the extraordinary and ongoing accomplishments of Florida State’s emeritus faculty.

“I challenge you to name another career where you go back to work after you retire,” Barron said. “Emeritus faculty show us time and again that they are not here just for a paycheck but because they are deeply committed to their scholarship and in transmitting knowledge to others.”

From recent correspondence with 50 emeritus faculty members, Barron was able to report that 18 had written and published a book; four had written multiple books; 21 had written and published manuscripts; six had started companies or produced products directly related to their scholarship; 23 continue teach, including overseas jobs teaching English as a foreign language; and 16 are serving on national or state boards.

Prior to Barron’s speech, Faculty Senate President Sandra Lewis presented Torch Awards to four individuals who have contributed significantly to the university’s ability to fulfill its academic mission. Receiving the awards were:

  • Marilyn J. Young, Florida State’s Wayne C. Minnick Professor of Communication Emerita, who wasthe university’s debate coach and director of forensics for 13 years and, later, served two terms as Faculty Senate president. She received the Vires award.
  • Frederick Leysieffer, an FSU professor emeritus of statistics who has served the university in a variety of administrative roles for two decades and who orchestrated the construction of several new buildings on Florida State’s Southwest Campus. He received the Vires award.
  • Lynda Keever, an FSU alumna and longtime publisher of Florida Trend magazine, who received the Artes award.
  • Stella Cottrell, also an FSU alumna and a founding member of the Women for Florida State University. Cottrell and her husband, Raymond, established the Cottrell Family Professorship in Chemistry and the Stella and Raymond Cottrell Endowed Professorship within the Department of Psychology. She received the Mores award.

To view a webcast of the Fall Meeting of the General Faculty, visit