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Steven Leath

Steven Leath

President, Auburn University | Led Iowa State from 2012-17 | Class of 1984

Among the five former Illini now running Southeastern Conference schools: Auburn University President Steven Leath, who kicked off his academic career in C-U, serving as an extension plant pathologist after earning his Ph.D. here.

“My favorite spot is seen by many but not known to many — the Turner Hall greenhouses,” says Leath, named Auburn’s 19th president in June 2017 after serving five-plus years at the helm of Iowa State.

“I was alone with my work (at Turner), whether it was making genetic crosses or pathology tests. The greenhouses also had a distinct smell that was somehow welcoming.

“On a very cold winter morning, the greenhouses offered a winter sanctuary. I could not only focus on the work at hand but it gave me time outside of class and other activities to really think about science.”