Former Auburn administrator’s autobiography chronicles his four decades at the university

Published: Jul 24, 2017
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As a child, Gerald Leischuck learned about hard work, responsibilities and difficult challenges. His most important experiences would come after he felt the desire to leave the daily burdens of farming and ranching and pursue his education.

"My Auburn: Four Decades on the Plains - An Autobiography," recently published by Xlibris, shares Leischuck’s story as a rural boy who decided at an early age that he wanted more from life than what he could envision from farming in eastern Colorado.

Born during the Great Depression, Leischuck was encouraged by his parents to obtain an education. He studied to become a teacher and was steered to graduate work, leading to his pursuit of education at the doctoral level.

Because of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s, he was drawn to the South to study at Auburn University, and upon graduation, he was offered an entry-level position in the university’s central administration.

"When I arrived in 1962, the educational leadership graduate program was staffed by some truly outstanding young faculty who had a genuine interest in the doctoral students," said Leischuck, whose Auburn University career spanned nearly 40 years. "They were ideal role models. Merely being around them and seeing them in action had an impact on my professional development."

The autobiography details his increasingly responsible career on the teams of six consecutive Auburn presidents during difficult as well as easier times, ending with his retirement as executive assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Trustees. He shares a perspective gained from his close involvement as Auburn was developing into the outstanding university it has become.

Leischuck details a historical perspective of change in the United States since the Great Depression to modern times and, more specifically, describes developments within the university.

"Auburn has transformed from a reasonably small, 9,000-student, land-grant college with a regional presence to a premier university with international visibility," Leischuck said. "Auburn today is so vastly different from what was here when I came in 1962 that the two are hardly comparable. Evidence is everywhere; the overall size of the institution, the quality of faculty and students, funding levels, the magnitude and diversity of research initiatives and much more talent in administrative and professional positions."

The book closes with a description of a meaningful life and a commitment to encourage, recognize and reward quality instruction.

Leischuck’s commitment to recognizing quality instruction is demonstrated through the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards for Excellence. The awards are given annually to two faculty members to honor teaching excellence among those who have demonstrated a commitment to student success through effective and innovative teaching and through advising and mentoring inside and outside the classroom.

"Upon retirement, Emily and I were committed to do all that we could in our remaining days to benefit Auburn University," said Leischuck. "Being here has been such a uniquely rewarding experience that we wanted Auburn to thrive as it welcomes future generations of students."