Florida State University : Research in Review

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Eric J. Barron FSU's 14TH President


Who are the national U.S. political figures (past and present) you most admire?

Abraham Lincoln. I recently read Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Willis. Lincoln's style of communicating, which appeared to be folksy and simple, was actually a masterpiece of careful thought, with a construction that went back even to ancient Greece. Team of Rivals, detailed Lincoln strengths (such as) his ability to sense the mood of the population and to accept diverse input, even from his rivals, and his weaknesses (such as) his propensity to wait far too long to replace a key person, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the need.

A few political figures who are scientists-like (former U.S. congressman) Sherry Boehlert-have stepped into the world of politics realizing that they can invest in the future and take on some of the challenges of supporting areas that aren't always at the top of everyone's lists.

On a scale of one to 10, how important is it these days for a university to have a winning sports program?

Athletics are a major factor in bringing alumni back to campus and maintaining life-long connections with the university. Strong programs gain us national attention and increase interest in FSU from potential students. Now, winning doesn't trump the importance of our academic programs, so my ranking changes based on circumstances. If we can succeed in athletics while maintaining our academic standards and if we can succeed while ensuring that the investment by the state and our tuition dollars go to support academics, then I would rank winning well into the upper quarter on a 10-point scale.

What are your most marked characteristics?

I like people. I hope I am very approachable. I can manage an even keel even under stress (if I do get mad, it's a bit more serious).

Who are your heroes in real life?

Sounds trite, but I would say my dad, mom, and my wife, Molly.

What do you despise most about American politics?

Everything is a tug of war with important and complex issues relegated into “for” or “against,” when there is a lot of middle ground with the potential for progress.

What are the qualities you like most in people?

When you can take someone at his or her word. When individuals can step above personal interests to enable a broader set of people or a whole institution, they have my great appreciation.

What is your favorite leisure-time activity or hobby?

I love to read. I have been an avid water-skier and hiker. I'm crazy about racquetball, but recently had shoulder surgery to reattach my bicep tendon and so I'm sidelined for a while, although I intend to return to action.

When you travel for leisure, what is your favorite destination?

I'm a great fan of national parks. I'm also a great fan of trying to spend time in my own living room.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I really enjoy Wallace Stegner, and also Patrick O'Brian's historical naval articles.

What book or books are you currently reading?

I just read Wilderness Warrior, a fascinating account of Teddy Roosevelt and his role in wilderness preservation in the U.S. He would have infuriated me if I had been a congressman, but yet he had tremendous impact. I also recently read Mean Business by the noteworthy, turn-around CEO Al Dunlop.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

I really enjoy music. My all time favorite is Verdi's Requiem. Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding set me off. I enjoy a wide variety of more recent artists, too, and find musicians like Gerry Rafferty really relaxing.