Leath ready to ‘roll up sleeves’ for ISU

Kaleb Warnock

The Iowa Board of Regents convened in special session this morning to hear introductions and statements by the two presidential finalists and for a question and answer session by the Regents themselves.

The first session was with candidate, Steven Leath, at 10:30 a.m. in the Alumni Center, and concluded with a closed session for the board to deliberate at 11 a.m.

In his opening statement, Leath began by stating that he will be a “new leader,” someone who is focused on innovation, which is essential in the current financial situation. He said that the most important purpose of a president of the university is to build Iowa State’s reputation both inside and outside of the state.

Leath said he is ready to speak for the university, but he said he wouldn’t be ready without the help of the students.

“I was so excited to meet with the students and to see what type of students [Iowa State] recruit[s] and what they’re capable of,” Leath said. “That makes me even more excited to be the Iowa State champion to tell about Iowa State — not just in Iowa, but all over.”

Leath continually cited his extensive experience at land-grant institutions, and, being a Nebraska native himself, said that this would make him prepared for the position if he takes over. He also wants to continue the legacy of previous presidents, and maintain their accomplishments. He thinks he can take big ideas and transform institutions in a positive way.

“I want to be here because the leadership before me has accomplished a great amount, but at the same time, Iowa State is poised for something big, and I want to be a part of that.”

When asked about his involvement in fundraising, Leath stated that he was ready to commit the time and energy the university will need in difficult times. He continually cited his extensive experience and connections he had made through his efforts and that fundraising “is not about asking for money, this is about relationships.”

Janet Leath, Steven’s wife, is also an avid fundraiser. Leath invited her to answer questions regarding fundraising, and she discussed her own experience in the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation. As a key actor in the trust, Janet raised a record amount to reintroduce elk to the northern part of North Carolina. For the Leaths, fundraising is second nature.

“It’s fun. It’s not a chore that we do, it’s something that we enjoy doing,”

Overall, Leath plans to continue the Iowa State legacy through preserving the relationships outside of the university stating that the university is “a reflection of the state of Iowa.”

He continued that he can run it in a business-like fashion, but won’t sacrifice academics. He’ll rethink the overall value of education and student experience and says that Iowa State needs to cultivate the students to be great students. The university does it well, he says but he wants to focus on it.

“It’s always easier to get excited and do more when people are trying to help themselves and I see that at Iowa State.”