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A Student’s View of FSU’s President Barron

It was a cool evening with a light wind blowing through the College of Medicine courtyard Saturday, March 22. Women for FSU had planned an entire weekend of events and activities, showcasing and highlighting different colleges and programs at FSU for alumni, family, and friends of FSU. The program at the College of Medicine featured a spectacular dinner and speaking event. One of the speakers was FSU’s very own President Barron.

I had the honor of sitting at the table with President and First Lady Barron. Throughout the evening I was able to converse with them and get to know the most public figure of our university: our President.

Born in Lafayette, Indiana, President Barron attended FSU and graduated with a BS in Geology in 1973. Though he went on to receive his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Miami in 1976 and 1980, respectively, he would end up finding his way back to FSU. Before his position as FSU’s president, Dr. Barron served as the Dean of Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas Austin where he was chair in Earth System Science. He has also served as the chair of numerous panels and committees for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the United States National Research Council.

In 2009, he was named the new President of Florida State.

President Barron’s speech Saturday night was not about his past positions or his future ones, or even anything about science. It was about values. FSU is a university and community built on values; “mores,” Latin for ‘character,’ is part of FSU’s motto. Dr. Barron spoke about two values that are not always thought of to be values in themselves. He spoke about giving and community. FSU is a school that endows students with more than just an education. It gives them a place to grow, to explore, and to succeed. President Barron said that if as members of the university, it should be one of our missions to give to others, whether that be financially, in time, or in services. Secondly, FSU is a community. With RSO’s, residence halls, specific major-tailored programs and groups, FSU is a place where people can come together and find a home. “We are a family,” as President Barron said.

Dr. Barron’s speech was honest and tinged with the love he has for the university. Beyond his inspiring speech, I was touched by the warm-heartedness and friendliness of our President. As a student, I never thought I would have the honor of meeting President Barron or the First Lady. I am just a student and he is the President, after all. But never once during the dinner did I feel such presumed disparity. President Barron has a friendly, approachable personality. He could make anyone feel at ease. There are no airs about President Barron. Between him and the First Lady, our table was entirely entertained and relaxed.

With the tables decorated in deep turquoise and purple floral arrangements, a flutist playing captivating music, and pure white name cards, to say that my evening was magical would be an understatement. The memory of that evening will stay with me long after I graduate and though Dr. Barron is leaving FSU for a different destiny, I will never forget the impact he had on FSU or me.

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