Steven Leath became Auburn University’s 19th president on June 19, 2017.
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath served for more than five years as president of Iowa State University (ISU), one of the nation’s top research institutions with an international reputation in science and technology. While president, Iowa State achieved its highest student graduation rate, lowered student debt, grew research expenditures, set fundraising records and secured the university’s largest private gift for an academic facility. He also led efforts for the 200-acre expansion of ISU’s research park, creating new jobs and attracting new companies, industry partnerships and government collaborations.
Trained as a plant scientist, Dr. Leath served at three universities in teaching, research and economic development posts en route to his positions at Iowa State and Auburn.
Dr. Leath was vice president for research and sponsored programs for the 16-campus University of North Carolina System. Under his leadership, external research grants and contracts steadily increased and technology transfer activities were streamlined to make the universities more attractive to private sector partners and more responsive to state needs. He also helped develop the North Carolina Research Campus, a private-public venture that fosters advancements in biotechnology, nutrition and health.
At North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Dr. Leath held several positions of increasing responsibility and prominence. Those positions include director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service (ARS), associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, professor, and research leader and plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ARS.
Dr. Leath began his academic career at the University of Illinois, Urbana, as an extension plant pathologist. He has published numerous articles on plant disease resistance, plant breeding and related areas and has presented his scientific work throughout the U.S. and in numerous countries. He 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.
Dr. Leath and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Eric and Scott, and two dogs.