Jay Gogue

Auburn University President Jay Gogue talks about his 10 years as school president in this 2017 file photo.

A portion of the Auburn University Board of Trustees wasted little time in recommending an interim president to fill the role left vacant by now-former President Steven Leath.

The executive committee for Auburn University's board of trustees met via conference call Sunday afternoon and voted to recommend appointing former president Jay Gogue as interim president.

The committee also voted to approve the resignation of Leath as president, effective June 21.

Gogue was Auburn University president from 2007 until Leath was hired in 2017.

The board released a statement about the appointment Sunday afternoon.

"The executive committee of the Auburn University Board of Trustees convened telephonically today and voted to accept the resignation of Steven Leath as the institution’s president,” the statement read. "The committee also voted to recommend Jay Gogue for the position of interim university president. Members of the full Board of Trustees will consider the executive committee’s recommendation during a specially-called meeting on July 8."

In a surprising announcement, at least as far as the timing is concerned, Auburn announced Friday night that Leath and the university agreed to a mutual parting of the ways.

No one from the university has yet elaborated on the discussions or the exact reason for Leath’s departure. Emails to members of the board of trustees either were not returned, or members said they did not wish to comment.

Before coming to the Plains two years ago, in June 2017, Leath was president at Iowa State.

Auburn’s board of trustees in April 2017 unanimously approved a five-year contract for Leath that set his salary at $625,000 annually, $100,000 more each year than he made in that same role at Iowa State, the Opelika-Auburn News reported then.

He was selected as Auburn’s 19th president at a specially-called board meeting in March 2017.

In the two years he served as Auburn’s president, he emphasized research, initiating the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research and the Presidential Graduate Research Fellowships.

The Auburn Research Park also grew during Leath’s time here, and the university earned the Carnegie R1 designation, placing it among the nation’s top 100 research institutions.

During his installation ceremony in March 2018, Leath shared his goal of hiring 500 tenure-track faculty members by the year 2022.

“We’re well on our way to having the first hundred on board by the end of the semester,” he said during his November 2018 state of the university address. “So those of you who might have been wondering, ‘Is stuff happening?’ Yes, it’s happening. The first 20 percent should be on board by the end of the semester, which is really exciting.”

Leath serves on the National Science Board and as secretary of the Council of Presidents for the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.

Leath also saw Jay Jacobs announce in 2017 his intent to step down as athletics director, and the president named Allen Greene to fill that role in early 2018.

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Follow Lance Griffin on Twitter @EagleLance


Lover of sweet tea, fried okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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