Iowa State University president Steven Leath was named the 19th president of Auburn University today.
An Auburn University news release says the university’s board of trustees Monday unanimously selected Leath after a six-month national search. Leath starts July 15 and replaces Jay Gogue, who announced his retirement in September.
“This is a great day for Auburn,” said trustee Raymond Harbert, who chaired the 14-member presidential search committee. “Dr. Leath is a strategic leader who will work alongside the campus community and alumni to elevate Auburn to the next level in instruction, research and outreach.”
“We found an accomplished leader through an inclusive search process with all campus constituencies represented,” said Larry Teeter, professor of forest economics and immediate past chair of the university senate. Teeter served on the presidential search committee along with others representing Auburn students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Leath, who is 59, was a vice president at North Carolina when he was named Iowa State’s president back in 2012. Leath has been under fire for his personal use of I-S-U’s airplanes, including an incident where a hard landing damaged the plane. Leath takes over as Auburn’s president on July 15th.
Iowa State University release a from Steve and Janet Leath announcing his decision:
I write today to inform the Iowa State Community that I have resigned my position as President of Iowa State University in order to pursue an outstanding opportunity at Auburn University. When first called about this opportunity, I responded truthfully, as I always had done since my arrival in Iowa, by saying, “I love Iowa State, and the Iowa State students, faculty, staff and Cyclone family are wonderful; I am not looking to leave.” However, after much thought, Janet and I decided to look at the opportunity at Auburn and realized the opportunity was one we could not pass up. When we arrived in Ames, we had no idea how much we would fall in love with Iowa and the Cyclone family. In fact, it was not long ago we bought a farm here and expected to retire here. However, we now realize our destiny is in Alabama and leading one of the nation’s great Land-grant universities to even greater prominence.
I leave with a promise fulfilled, and that was to leave the university better than I inherited it. I leave with Iowa State achieving record enrollment, retention rates, graduation rates, job placement rates as well as records in fundraising and research funding, and numerous other metrics. I am proud of the many accomplishments that we achieved in economic development and community engagement.
I have volunteered to work closely with the Regents to identify an interim President and start a search for a permanent President. In addition, I will keep you updated during this time of change.
Janet and I have made lifelong friends here in Iowa and have had many great experiences. We will always consider ourselves Cyclones and have great affection for this university and its beautiful campus; it is a very special place. Our appreciation for the Cyclone family is beyond words, and we found this extended family of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to be the greatest joy of our time at Iowa State.
Steven and Janet A. Leath
President and First Lady
Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter released this statement on the news:
“I would like to thank President Leath for his service to Iowa State University, the Board of Regents and the state of Iowa. ISU has made great strides during his tenure, including achieving record enrollment. We wish President Leath and his wife, Janet, the best at Auburn University.”
The news release from the Board of Regents says the group will hold a special meeting soon to discuss the presidential transition at Iowa State.