March 20, 2017
Dr. Steven Leath and wife Janet.
MONTGOMERY, Ala., March 20 — The Alabama Farmers Federation today welcomed the announcement of Steven Leath as Auburn University’s (AU) 19th president. Federation President Jimmy Parnell said Leath’s agricultural background and experience in leadership at land-grant universities is encouraging news for Alabama farmers.
“We look forward to working with Dr. Leath to build on Auburn’s rich heritage of agricultural research, instruction and outreach,” said Parnell, who leads the state’s largest farm organization. “His appreciation for farming and the land-grant mission gives Dr. Leath a solid foundation to build productive relationships with the Alabama farmers.”
Leath, 59, earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Penn State University. He holds a master’s in plant pathology from the University of Delaware and a doctorate in plant pathology and phytopathology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Leath has been Iowa State University president since 2007. He previously was vice president for research for the 16-campus University of North Carolina system.
While Iowa State president, the university 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.
Parnell also praised the work of retiring AU President Jay Gogue.
“Dr. Gogue is a friend of Alabama farmers,” Parnell said. “He has worked with the Federation to ensure the university’s work is meeting the needs of farmers. We appreciate his service and wish Dr. Gogue and his wife, Susie, all the best in their retirement.”
On Jan. 30 the Federation Board of Directors presented Gogue a resolution recognizing his contributions to Alabama agriculture.
Leath will assume his new duties July 15. He and wife Janet have two children, Eric and Scott. The family owns a Christmas tree farm in Jefferson, N.C.