Steve Pelham tapped to advance Auburn as the university’s next Chief of Staff

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Steve Pelham, longtime chief of staff to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, was selected after a national search as Auburn University chief of staff and vice president for economic development, effective February 1.

Pelham will manage and direct key functions in the office of Auburn President Steven Leath and provide leadership for business and economic development activity by the university and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.

“Steve has a long history of success in the upper echelons of government and economic development in the State,” Auburn President Steven Leath said. “In addition to experience managing a large and complex organization, he brings actionable ideas and a sense of urgency to Auburn’s growing role as a driver of economic opportunity.”

Pelham graduated from Auburn in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in public administration. After working a few years in sales and as an area director for the Alabama Farmers Federation, he entered the world of government. From 1993 to 2001, Pelham was state director for former U.S. Rep. Terry Everett.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Pelham as the Alabama state director for USDA’s rural development agency, where he led programs strengthening home ownership, community infrastructure and business growth. He also served as director of USDA legislative and public affairs from 2007 to 2008.

After a few years as a private consultant, Pelham joined Ivey as chief of staff when she was elected lieutenant governor in 2011. He remained her top advisor as governor.

“I am honored to have been selected for this key position at Auburn,” Pelham said. “It is an exciting opportunity for me professionally and personally to return home, contribute to President Leath’s senior leadership team and help make Auburn one of the premier land-grant universities in the nation.”

Pelham is active in community and state organizations, including Leadership Alabama, the Economic Development Association of Alabama, the Alabama Technology Foundation and the Center for Rural Alabama, among others.

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.