STATE COLLEGE – The man who took over at the helm of Penn State the week after Washington native Jerry Sandusky was charged with child molestation thanked the university community Friday, a day before he will preside over the university’s commencement and then retire.
President Rodney Erickson said in the email that he was humbled to be one of 17 people to have held the post.
“Serving Penn State has been the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life,” he said.
Erickson has been at Penn State for 37 years and was provost in late 2011, when the trustees forced out then-President Graham Spanier following the arrests of Sandusky and two top administrators.
He helped manage the crisis and accepted a set of penalties from the NCAA that included a $60 million fine and a multi-year bowl ban, a decision that avoided a complete suspension of the football program but drew criticism from some alumni and fans.
On Friday, the board of trustees named the school’s food science building after Erickson and increased his retirement bonus from $100,000 to $150,000.
He also became the third person to receive the Penn State Medal and was granted emeritus status.
Erickson and his wife announced last month they were donating $1 million to the university to support its arboretum and to foster early career faculty.
Erickson will be succeeded as president by Eric Barron, who most recently served as Florida State’s president. Barron takes the reins Monday.
Spanier and the other two now-retired administrators, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, await trial for an alleged criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky.
Sandusky, who spent decades on the Penn State football coaching staff under the late Joe Paterno, was convicted two years ago of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving 30 to 60 years in SCI-Greene.