Auburn University names new president

Auburn University names new president

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) – The Auburn University Board of Trustees has voted on Auburn University's new president.

The Board of Trustees voted for Dr. Steven Leath as Auburn University's 19th president.

Dr. Steven Leath became the 15th president of Iowa State University in January 2012. He leads a university that educates more than 36,000 students, employs 6,300 faculty and staff, and belongs to the Association of American Universities (AAU).

Memberships and boards

A member of the Council of Presidents of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), President Leath also serves on the Board of Directors of the University Innovation Alliance, a group of 11 public research universities aimed at making degrees more attainable for students with financial needs; the IFDC, an international soil fertility and agricultural development center; the Greater Des Moines Partnership; and Bankers Trust. He is also a member of the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors and serves as the Big 12 representative on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

President Leath is founding co-chair of the Cultivation Corridor regional economic development initiative; and he is a member of the executive committee of the Iowa STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Advisory Council, the World Food Prize Council of Advisors, the Qassim University International Advisory Board, and the Iowa Business Council. He is also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Crop Science Society of America, American Phytopathological Society, Sigma Xi research honor society, Cardinal Key Honor Society, and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.


President Leath holds a B.S. in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in plant science from the University of Delaware, and Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.

Positions, projects, research

He spent one year as an Extension Plant Pathologist in Illinois before joining the faculty of North Carolina State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as a plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) unit based at NC State. He focused on disease control and genetics of disease resistance in cereal crops. In 1998, he was named professor and research leader of the unit, then spent time as acting national grain crops program leader for the USDA-ARS in Washington, DC. He returned to NC State in 2001 as a professor and assistant director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service (NCARS), was promoted to associate director in 2003, and was named NCARS director and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2005.

From 2007 to 2012, Leath was Vice President for Research for the University of North Carolina (UNC) General Administration, where he oversaw $1.4 billion in competitive research grants and contracts and promoted research and sponsored programs across the full spectrum of academic disciplines and interdisciplinary activities carried out by UNC's 16 university campuses. He also oversaw UNC's inter-institutional centers and was one of the leaders in such highly successful public-private partnerships as the North Carolina Research Campus and the David H. Murdock Research Institute, which he helped establish and led as chief executive officer. He also had active roles in the North Carolina State University Centennial Campus and the Research Triangle Park.

During his research career, Leath published nearly 100 scientific articles in plant disease resistance, plant pathology, plant breeding, and related fields.

Family and interests

President Leath is a pilot and an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys bird hunting, bow hunting, and is a member of the Boone and Crockett Club. His family owns and manages a Christmas tree farm in Ashe County, North Carolina. He and his wife Janet have two adult sons, Eric and Scott and two dogs, Dixie and Quill.

The search committee began looking for a new president in September 2016 after President Jay Gogue announced his plans to retire this summer.

Dr. Leath now joins more than a dozen people who have been president at Auburn University since it was founded.

The latest being Jay Gogue who was president from 2007 until he announced his retirement.

The first president was William Sasnett who served just three years from 1859 until 1861.

One of the longest serving was William Broun who served two terms from 1882-1883 and from 1884-1902.

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