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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Auburn University is hiring Iowa State president Steven Leath as its new president. Auburn trustees voted Monday to name Leath as the replacement for Jay Gogue, who plans to retire this summer. Leath has recently been under fire for his use of university aircraft at Iowa State. Last month, officials decided against filing criminal charges against Leath following an investigation into whether he broke the law with his use of school aircraft. That review began after an audit found Leath used university planes for medical appointments in Minnesota, personal flight lessons and trips home to North Carolina. He has now reimbursed the university for the flights. Auburn picked Leath after a search that didn’t include an announcement of finalists. Some say the selection process should have been more transparent.
=== Earlier Monday, Governor Terry Branstad said he had not heard from Leath. “Frankly, I hope he stays at Iowa State University because I’m appreciative of what he’s done,” Branstad says. Branstad credits Leath for focusing and expanding some of Iowa State’s core academic programs. “Steven Leath, I think, has done a great job at Iowa State University,” Branstad says. “Under his leadership, Iowa State University has grown, especially in fields like agriculture and engineering. Also, they’ve been very involved in biotechnology.” Branstad is also praising Leath for “growing” the university’s endowment funds. Leath, who is 59, was a vice president at North Carolina when he was named Iowa State’s president back in 2012. Auburn and Iowa State are both “land grant” universities. Auburn was known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama when it was established in 1872. Iowa State — originally called the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm — is the nation’s first land-grant college.