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Erickson reflects on time spent as PSU President

Updated: Wednesday, May 14 2014, 07:17 PM EDT

Reported By: Erin Calandra
Written By: Marc Stempka

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Former Penn State University President Rodney Erickson says he is now looking forward to enjoying his retirement.

He took the helm of the school at arguably its darkest point: The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Erickson said his time as president forced him to make decisions that he doesn't regret.

Boxes clutter Erickson's new office on Penn State's main campus. He will remain at the school as a professor emeritus and has a lot of unpacking to do into his smaller space.

"I've got a lot of work to do here as I've got 41 plus years of faculty and administrative life to unpack," Erickson said.

He officially retired as of Sunday, passing the helm to President Eric Barron. Erickson said he's looking forward to getting back to his roots by working on his Ferguson Township farm.

"It's nice to be able to do it during the day time instead of done between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.," Erickson said.

Erickson was the school's 17th president, assuming the position after the board of trustees removed Graham Spanier from the presidency within days of the Sandusky scandal coming to light in November 2011.

Erickson was responsible for guiding the school through unchartered waters, of which were practically never seen by any institution of higher education before.

Despite the unprecedented sanctions leveled against the school by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in wake of the Sandusky scandal, Erickson also saw university enrollment and donations increase during his time.

Still, Erickson said the decisions around the Sandusky scandal were the most difficult, including those following the release of the Freeh Report, the internal investigation accepted by Erickson and the board of trustees in review of the scandal.

"There were a lot of hard decisions along the way," Erickson said. "Probably the one that caused the most consternation was the NCAA decision."

Despite the anger that came and may still come his way, there are those in the Penn State community supporting Erickson and the work he did in the short time he spent as president.

"We are more stable, the future is bright," said Penn State alumnus John Otwe. "Penn State will soar up."

Others said he was the best person for the job, given what the school was facing.

"It seems to me he was the right individual at the right time for the university to stabilize," Penn State alumnus Mike Brey said. "Set it on a course, a much more positive course."

Erickson said his strategy was, and will continue to be, to allow students, faculty and staff to keep doing a great job, and that everything else would fall into place.

"I believe the university is in very good shape [and] a very strong position as President Barron takes over," Erickson said. "It's been an honor and privilege to serve PSU."

Erickson reflects on time spent as PSU President

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