Jay Gogue may be returning to Samford Hall on an interim basis.
The executive committee for Auburn University's board of trustees met via conference call Sunday afternoon and voted to recommend appointing Gogue as interim president of the university.
Members of the full board of trustees will consider the committee’s recommendation during a specially called meeting on July 8.
Gogue was Auburn University’s 18th president from 2007 until Steven Leath was hired in the summer of 2017.
The committee also voted Sunday to approve the resignation of Leath as president, effective June 21.
The university on Friday night issued a statement saying Leath and members of the board’s presidential assessment working group “mutually decided to part ways after extensive discussions about the university’s leadership.”
Leath resigned via correspondence delivered to Wayne Smith, president pro tem of the board of trustees, on Friday, according to an executive committee resolution.
No one from the university has yet elaborated on the discussions or the exact reason for Leath’s departure. Emails to members of the board of trustees either were not returned, or members did not wish to comment.
A resolution from the executive committee also recommends retired Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, Auburn’s chief operating officer, be appointed executive vice president of the university. In that role, he would be “instructed to oversee the business and administrative affairs of the university until such time as an interim president is appointed by the full board of trustees.”
The resolution also reads that as president pro tem, Smith is “empowered to prepare and execute any and all notices and documentation required to effectuate the actions contemplated by this resolution, each and as reviewed by general counsel for Auburn University, and to take any and all other actions necessary to create a smooth transition for the Office of the President from Dr. Leath to (name redacted).”
Gogue announced his plan to retire as Auburn’s president during a September 2016 board of trustees meeting.
“The time has come for you guys to begin a new search process to look for a new president,” Gogue told the board at the time. “My wife told me I’m getting more cantankerous all the time, so that was the driving reason for that.”
Gogue graduated from Auburn in 1969 and 1971. Before returning to Auburn for the presidency in 2007, he served as president at New Mexico State University and the University of Houston.
In an interview with the Opelika-Auburn News shortly before his retirement, Gogue said he “hit the ground listening” when he came back to the Plains in 2007, saying he took time to hear what students, faculty and other groups wanted before setting his own agenda.
During the decade Gogue served as Auburn’s president, graduation rates rose from 60 to 75 percent, the Opelika-Auburn News reported. A “Because This is Auburn” fundraising campaign made Auburn the first university in the state to raise $1 billion in a comprehensive fundraising campaign.
At a June 9, 2017, board meeting, the trustees unanimously voted to name the university’s new performing arts center after Gogue and his wife.
The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open in August.