Steven Leath became Auburn University’s 19th president on June 19, 2017. As president, Dr. Leath brings extensive leadership expertise to advance the university’s land-grant mission of excellence in instruction, research, and outreach.
Since becoming president, Dr. Leath has launched a number of bold initiatives designed to reinforce Auburn’s commitment to student success, transformative research, and scholarship. In support of the university’s desire to strengthen instruction and innovation, Dr. Leath has committed to the hiring of 500 new tenure-track, scholarship- and research-focused faculty members by the year 2022.
Under Dr. Leath’s leadership, the university continues to augment the meaningful impact of academic discovery at Auburn. The Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) initiative supports multidisciplinary research teams that will propel Auburn to higher levels of distinction and attract new sources of external funding. Additionally, the Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship recruits top-tier PhD scholars in fields of established and emerging research.
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath served as president of Iowa State University (ISU), one of the nation’s top research institutions with an international reputation for robust advancements in science and technology.
A trained plant pathologist, Dr. Leath has served at three universities prior to Auburn, playing a key role in advancing teaching, research, and economic development at each, most recently as president of ISU.
As vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina System, Dr. Leath steadily increased external research grants and contracts and streamlined technology transfer activities to better position the universities among private sector partners, allowing them to be more responsive to state needs. He was also instrumental in developing 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 prominent positions of increasing responsibility. He served as 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 US 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 other related areas, and he has presented his scientific research throughout the US and internationally. Dr. Leath holds a BS in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, MS in plant science from the University of Delaware, and PhD in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Leath and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Eric and Scott, and a yellow Labrador retriever, Quill.