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Iowa State University president Leath leaving for Auburn presidency

Report: Leath on 'short list' as next president of Auburn University

The candidate offered the position is Dr. Steven Leath, the President of Iowa State University.

But shortly after the Auburn trustees voted to hire him Monday morning, Leath and his wife, Janet, issued a letter to the ISU community indicating, "We now realize our destiny is in Alabama and leading one of the nation's great land-grant universities to even greater prominence".

With this, however, his name has been plagued with controversies such as his use of Iowa State's university-owned aircraft and a land deal this past summer with Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter. An audit found that Leath used the university plane for medical appointments in Minnesota, personal flight lessons and to take trips home to North Carolina.

When inaugurated, Leath said he believed in the future of public universities, the branding of Iowa State and the value of a Cyclone education. "He cares about students, and he cares about faculty".

He worked in several research and teaching positions at North Carolina State before becoming vice president for research at the University of North Carolina in 2007, his only position at a non-land grant university.

The news release from the Board of Regents says the group will hold a special meeting soon to discuss the presidential transition at Iowa State.

"I don't know, but it's nearly a necessity for (the next president) to have that land-grant experience", Earlon McWhorter said.

The university employs 6,300 faculty and staff, and is esteemed as one of two Iowa research universities in the Association of American Universities. However, after much thought, Janet and I made a decision to look at the opportunity at Auburn and realized the opportunity was one we could not pass up.

I leave with a promise fulfilled, and that was to leave the university better than I inherited it. "We're a unique university, and he would need to know who we are".

I have volunteered to work closely with the Regents to identify an interim president and start a search for a permanent president.

Leath has been a president with a strong fundraising drive - launching a "quiet phase" of the campaign in 2012.