Steven Leath


John L. Anderson

Plant Pathology
B.S., Pennsylvania State University
M.S., University of Delaware
Ph.D., University of Illinois


Steven Leath is past president of two premier land-grant institutions, Iowa State University and Auburn University. His extensive leadership experience significantly advanced the teaching, research and service missions and economic development efforts of both institutions.

While at Auburn, Leath strengthened the institution’s reputation as a partnership university and empowered students, faculty and entrepreneurs to develop transformative ideas and inventions that improve lives. Key initiatives he advanced include a strategic effort to recruit 500 new research- and scholarship-focused faculty, the advancement of multidisciplinary research through a $5 million presidential award program and the creation of new fellowships to attract 100 top-tier PhD scholars. Under his leadership, Auburn achieved Carnegie R1 classification, placing the university among the country’s elite research institutions.

During Leath’s tenure as Iowa State University (ISU) 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 and its largest cash gift. He also led efforts for the 200-acre expansion of ISU’s research park, generating new jobs and attracting new companies, industry partnerships and government collaborations.

Leath previously served as vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina System and held several prominent positions at North Carolina State University and in the U. S. Department of Agriculture. He has authored nearly 100 refereed journal articles as well as book chapters and other works. Leath holds a BS in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, an MS in plant science from the University of Delaware and a PhD in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.

Leath is a member of the National Science Board’s class of 2018-2024.