Joan R. Leitzel was a Professor of Mathematics at Ohio State and moved into administration as Associate Provost for Curriculum and Instruction. In 1990 she went to the National Science Foundation as a division director, and then to the University of Nebraska as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. She then became President of the University of New Hampshire. She retired in 2002 and returned to Columbus.
During her retirement Dr. Leitzel continues to be engaged with her field of mathematics and with higher education issues and institutions. She has chaired the Mathematical Sciences Education Board at the National Research Council and also the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences. In 2008-09 she returned to Ohio State full time to lead the restructuring of Arts and Sciences. In 2013 she chaired the Steering Committee formed by the Ohio Board of Regents to craft goals and a process for updating undergraduate mathematics programs at Ohio's postsecondary institutions, an initiative now led by the chairpersons of those departments. In the last two years she has testified twice before Ohio legislative committees against bills to withdraw from the Common Core Standards, and she continues to meet periodically with the Ohio Standards Coalition and the Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition. At the national level she has served and continues to serve on several national committees during her retirement, including the NCES Project to Assess Algebraic Reasoning, the MAA Strategic Planning Committee, various NSF proposal review panels and program reviews, and APLU's Advisory Board for the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership. She currently is a member of the national advisory board for the Association for Women in Mathematics and the national advisory board for the Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis at Rutgers.
In 2014, Dr. Leitzel received the Gung and Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics from the Mathematical Association of America, and in 2015 she received the Friend of Mathematics Award from the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics.