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Auburn University, president Steven Leath ‘mutually’ parting ways

Dr. Steven Leath, president of Auburn University, has left his post in sudden fashion.

A press release sent out late Friday evening said Leath and Auburn “mutually decided to part ways after extensive discussions about the university’s leadership.”

The decision came after a meeting between Leath and members of the Auburn board of trustees’ presidential assessment working group.

Wayne T. Smith, president pro tempore of the university’s board, said an interim president will be named as soon as the board can convene for a meeting.

Before coming to Auburn in 2017, Leath served as president of Iowa State University and vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina System. He held several positions at North Carolina State University and began his academic career at the University of Illinois, Urbana, as an extension plant pathologist. He holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University, the University of Delaware and the University of Illinois. He serves on the National Science Board and as secretary of the Council of Presidents for the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.

“Dr. Leath arrived with vision and enthusiasm to take Auburn to the next level,” Smith stated. “We’re grateful for his dedication and commitment as Auburn made strides as a world-class public university. We wish Steve and Janet all the best.”

Under Leath’s leadership, Auburn earned the Carnegie R1 designation, the highest available, placing it in the top 100 research universities in the nation. He also initiated the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research and the Presidential Graduate Research Fellowships.

Additionally, the Auburn Research Park substantially grew with a new child care facility and plans for a new Innovation and Research Center and a health sciences facility operated by the East Alabama Medical Center.

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

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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