ISU officials react to presidental selection


Steven Leath greets ISU Alumni Association President and CEO Jeffery Johnson at the ceremony announcing Leath as Iowa State University’s next president. Leath will take office in Feburary 2012.

Kaleb Warnock

Following the announcement Tuesday by the Board of Regents, the Campanile Room erupted in applause and lively conversation between students, faculty, administrators and members of the Ames community.

“I’m very excited,” said executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman. “We had a great visit on Saturday. We clearly think alike about issues of Iowa and Iowa State being [a] premier institute for research in Iowa.”

Hoffman was extremely impressed by both candidates and didn’t think the committee could have made a bad decision, regardless of who it chose. She was impressed by Leath’s commitment to Iowa students and Iowa State.

“President [Gregory] Geoffroy left the university in extraordinarily good shape,” Hoffman said. “[Leath’s] responsibility is to build on the strength that we already have.”

GSB president Dakota Hoben was happiest about the idea of the rising value of the ISU degree as Leath continues the legacy of making Iowa State a top institution.

“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed throughout the whole process is his ability to get things done,” Hoben said regarding Leath. “He understands people and he knows how to communicate.”

Hoben said he had a good experience working with Leath through the selection process. He feels that Leath is ready for the job, but thinks Leath’s first challenge will be to establish trust within the community.

Tom Hill, vice president of Student Affairs, also sees Leath integrating himself into the system well. He stated that Leath’s career has given him the experience he will need to be able to lead well and work well at Iowa State. However, he also feels that although he is ready to be president, every university is unique and he needs to spend the time to get to know Iowa State to work to his fullest potential.

“There’s a culture here in Iowa,” Hill said. “There are a lot of differences. You have to pay attention to see what ISU is all about.”

Hill is looking forward to the opportunity to work with Leath, and agrees with his emphasis on the importance of a student-focused attitude.

Warren Madden, vice president of business and finance, supported the regents’ decision

“I think he will be a great person,” Madden said. “He will be a fast learner and pick up the activities and fit in to the ISU and Ames community.”

He predicted that one of the next president’s largest difficulties will be establishing a relationship with the Iowa Legislature.

Overall, Leath was pleased to be here, despite the nerves, because this is what he and his wife, Janet, want.

It may be a difficult process to balance the transitions, but Leath is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to several trips to Ames between now and Jan. 1.

“Janet and I are excited about this,” he said. “It’s the most important event in education right now.”