A Brief Introduction to Auburn’s Interim President
This past June former president Steven Leath announced his resignation after only two years serving Auburn. As a result, the Board of Trustees requested Leath’s predecessor, Jay Gogue, step in as Interim President. So who is this former president? Some students may remember him for his accomplishments during his time at Auburn, but others may not have heard of him. So here are some important things that Auburn students should know about President Gogue.
President Gogue was born in 1947 in the small town of Waycross, Georgia. He obtained his bachelors and masters degree from Auburn, before getting his doctorate from Michigan State. With a doctorate in hand, he went on to serve in many positions across the United States: working with the National Park Service, serving in several positions for Clemson University, serving as President of both New Mexico State University and the University of Houston. Following these positions, he came back to Auburn to serve as President from 2007 to 2017. Then after almost two years, he was asked to return to Auburn to serve as Interim President.
Gogue is humble about his accomplishments, citing teamwork as one of the reasons he has been successful. With small town humbleness, he says that simply earning his degree is what he is most proud of.
When asked what brought him to Auburn, he laughed and asked which time. He loves the buildings on campus and the evolving architecture. He loves how large the campus is. He says, though, that the part that kept bringing him back was not how Auburn looks, or how it has grown over the years- it’s what has remained constant. “The part that was the same from 50 years ago was the people,” Gogue said, it is the people of Auburn that encouraged him to join the family, and to leave retirement to serve once more.
His goals for the office this time around is the same as it was twelve years ago, “keep Auburn, Auburn.” Every Auburn graduate receives a survey five years after graduation asking questions like how they are performing in their jobs and if they have a job in the same field as their degree. The part of this survey that Gogue is particularly interested in is the question that asks if the student would return to Auburn University and pursue the same major if they had to do it all over again. For most public universities, around 80% of graduates said yes while private universities show percentages in the 90’s. Auburn’s percentage averages at 95. President Gogue says that his primary goal in office is to never mess that number up, to keep Auburn a university for the people.
Many things about Auburn have changed through the years, including many traditions Auburn students have come to love. The eagles did not always fly on gameday, Aubie started as a cartoon character, and the rolling of Toomer’s Corner started as a way to let Auburn fans know how the team was doing during an away game. Rolling of the oaks is President Gogue’s favorite Auburn tradition, he remembers its ticker tape beginnings and loves how far it has come over the years.
To him and many former students, one of the greatest things about Auburn is to look back on how it has changed over the years. Auburn is the “people’s university.” Gogue cites our acceptance of women in 1892 and our early steps to diversity as some of the things that have stood out about Auburn’s evolution. Auburn embodies the idea of the “new south” and continues to make bounds toward inclusivity. Auburn has high standards for its students but Gogue assures us Auburn as a whole is striving to stay “not elitist, loyal to its land grant roots.”
By Meaghan Holland