Auburn community reacts to university president’s sudden departure

Updated: Jun. 24, 2019 at 9:44 AM EDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - Auburn University President Dr. Steven Leath shocked the Auburn community when he suddenly stepped down from his role at the university last week after just two years.

The university stated in a press release that Leath and members of the Board of Trustees’ presidential assessment group mutually decided to part ways after extensive discussion about the university’s leadership.

“Somewhat surprised with sudden resignation of such a significant position: college president. But the only thing I can do is speculate, perhaps it wasn’t working out, perhaps he didn’t fit in,” said Auburn resident Kenneth Cyrus.

“It’s very sudden, out of the blue definitely didn’t expect it at all,” said resident Jay Hensley.

Before coming to Auburn University in 2017, Leath served as president of Iowa State University and vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina.

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders says he is unsure of the circumstances between Leath and the university, but says he has maintained a great relationship with him.

“My perspective is, in all things related to the partnership between the city of Auburn and Auburn University, Dr. Leath has been very supportive from day one and very interested in my candidacy as a potential mayor of Auburn and has been willing to work with me since the very beginning," said Anders.

People in the community have mixed feelings about what comes next for Auburn.

“I love Auburn, so I think the leadership, I don’t know, we need to get some stability basically, you know, everything is just constantly changing up here,” said Smyth Wood, another Auburn resident.

Leath stated in the press release “As I’ve said many times, serving as Auburn’s president has been the highlight of my career and I’m confident we leave Auburn stronger than we arrived.”

Mayor Anders says he has faith in the people in charge of selecting the next president and hopes they understand the dynamic relationship the City of Auburn has with the university.

“We are connected at Toomer’s Corner. We all work in the same town, we all live down the street from each other and we all share the same interest in Auburn being the best it can be,” said Anders.

Former Auburn University President Jay Gogue has been recommended for the interim university president position.

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