Auburn University President Steven Leath announced plans March 29 to hire 500 tenure-track faculty by 2022, targeting a broad range of research and scholarly disciplines at the leading land-grant university.
Leath has tapped College of Agriculture professor Beth Guertal to lead the strategic planning process. Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan said the move is encouraging for Alabama agriculture.
“As a plant pathologist, Dr. Leath recognizes the importance of agriculture to Alabama and beyond,” Pinyan said. “We’re excited to see an agriculture professor lead the charge in expanding Auburn’s education and research work and look forward to working with Dr. Guertal in this role.”
The commitment, made during a ceremony marking Leath’s installation as Auburn’s 19th president, is a key component of a comprehensive, five-year strategy to expand Auburn’s education, research, partnership and economic development initiatives to meet pressing social needs.
“Our vision for Auburn is to become a world-class academic, research and service university in the true spirit of our land-grant heritage,” Leath said. “The strategy and initiatives launched today are designed to position Auburn as an undisputed go-to destination for that special caliber of student, faculty, staff and development partner driven to make a meaningful impact on the state of Alabama, the nation and the world.”
Auburn has current enrollment of 29,776 full-time students. There are no current plans to measurably increase undergraduate student enrollment. New graduate student enrollment initiatives are being planned to grow doctoral student admissions in support of the announced faculty expansion. The total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty is expected to grow from 1,144 in 2018 to an estimated 1,250 by 2022 after accounting for typical faculty retirement and attrition patterns.
Government and economic development leaders expressed their support for the new hiring initiatives and Auburn’s commitment to outreach and engagement.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Dr. Steven Leath as he serves as the 19th president of Auburn University,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. “Dr. Leath genuinely cares for others and seeks to make a positive difference in our world. As a visionary and innovative leader, he will honor Auburn’s past and move our fine institution into a new era of prosperity and excellence.”
“Dr. Leath has a deep appreciation for the pivotal role strong research universities play in development,” noted Steve R. Spencer, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. “They create environments that leading industries need to thrive and attract a talented workforce, and they are crucial to attracting top students, graduates and businesses and keeping them in the State. Through Dr. Leath's vision and leadership, we look forward to even more productive collaboration with Auburn that will help drive Alabama's future prosperity and growth.”
According to the 2017 Auburn University Economic Impact Study, the Auburn University system and its alumni contributed $5.4 billion to the economy of the State of Alabama in 2016-2017. The study estimates that Auburn’s impact is responsible for creating some 25,826 jobs in Alabama during that timeframe in addition to the university’s own direct employment.
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