There was a big ceremony at Iowa State University in Ames today. Board of Regents president Craig Lang presided over the official installation of Steven Leath as the new president of the university.
“Dr. Leath, you have been selected by the Board of Regents State of Iowa to become the 15th person in succession of outstanding leaders to serve as president of Iowa State University of Science and Technology,” Lang said.
Leath came from North Carolina and has been working at the school the past couple of months.
Leath became emotional as he recognized his wife and family, and then talked about his land-grant university roots.
“I believe there is nothing more important than an educated citizenry and land grant universities open the door for higher education to all. And I believe there is nothing more important than knowledge put to use to solve a pressing problem, to improve our quality of life and to create new economic opportunities,” Leath said.
Leath said Iowa State has gained a reputation as a great university and he wants to make it even greater.
“My first priority is to continue to be true to this brand and this culture and to continue improving our retention, graduation and placement rates, which means keeping the academic and student services program here strong,” Leath said.
“But just as important, we must be accessible and being accessible means we must be affordable — and of course, being accessible without quality is unacceptable.”
He announced a goal of $150 million in private donations for student financial aid over the next five years.Leath also said he wants to expand the university’s effort to help the state create new businesses and jobs. That will include an effort to link economic development efforts closer together.
“I’ve asked the members of my senior leadership team to develop a detailed economic development framework that will better assist Iowa companies and communities to prosper and grow,” Leath explained. “Elements of that framework will address a number of challenges associated with Iowa’s ability to form new businesses, grow existing industry, support communities, and transplant companies to this state. We will launch this new framework before the end of the year.”
He talked in more detail about the economic development plan. “Specifically I expect the new framework to provide clear-value propositions which will immediately be applicable to companies both small and large. This will include items like STEM education, fulltime job placement, technology transfer, policy analysis, continuing education and technical assistance,” Leath said.
“This framework will connect faculty, staff and student resources with industry, communities, educational institutions, business associations, and state and local economic development agencies to help Iowa to prosper and grow.” The new president’s plan also includes adding more faculty to carry out his economic development plans.
“We’re going to our efforts in faculty recruitment in areas critical to Iowa’s economic future, such as the biological sciences, agriculture, physical science and engineering. Our goal is to build this faculty in these areas by 200 positions in the next 18 to 24 months and to continue growing aggressively beyond that,” Leath said. He says some of the positions will be new, and some will be vacant positions that are filled.
Esrkine Bowls, the emeritus president of the University of North Carolina, and a long-time friend, introduced Leath at the ceremony.
You can find out more about Leath and the installation ceremony at: www.iastate.edu.