The Virginia Tech community is sad to learn of the passing of President Emeritus Charles Steger, who died at his home in Blacksburg Sunday night, May 6, 2018.
Steger was president of Virginia Tech for 14 years, from 2000-2014, and he grew the university in numerous ways, while shepherding it through difficult state budget cuts and the April 16, 2007 tragedy.
Steger’s focus as president was to grow Virginia Tech as a research university and to expand the university’s educational offerings, most notably by creating the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, which graduated its first class in 2014 and will become Virginia Tech’s ninth college this July 1.
In his Founder’s Day installation speech back in 2000, Steger stated an ambitious goal: to make Virginia Tech a top 30 research institution by 2010. At that point in time (FY2000 – rankings here), Virginia Tech was ranked No. 51 in the nation in R&D expenditures, with $192.7 million spent on research.
While Virginia Tech did not reach the top 30 by 2010, the university’s research expenditures nonetheless boomed under Steger. By FY 2014 (rankings here), Virginia Tech’s research expenditures had risen to No. 39 with $513.1 million, a staggering increase in just 14 years.
During that time, due partly to drastic cuts in state funding, tuition and fees at Virginia Tech skyrocketed. In 2000-01, in-state tuition and fees were $3,604. By 2014-15, the first year after Steger’s retirement, in-state tuition and fees had more than tripled, to $12,017 per year.
Steger earned three Virginia Tech degrees: a bachelor’s degree in 1970 and a master’s degree in 1971, both in architecture; and a Ph.D. in environmental sciences and engineering in 1978. He spent nearly his entire professional career at Virginia Tech in various capacities.
A full recounting of Steger’s career and all that he accomplished at Virginia Tech can be found in this in memoriam statement from Virginia Tech.
Steger is survived by his wife of 48 years, Janet; a son, Christopher Baird Steger, and wife, Elizabeth Jeanne Schumann; and a son, David Charles Steger, and fiancée, Alison Nemeth. Steger is also survived by a brother, Keith G. Steger, and wife, Teresa, and their son, Aaron Steger; a sister, Linda McGrath, and husband, Michael, and their daughter, Andrea; and a sister, Jennifer Layton, and husband, Jim; and a brother-in-law, John Baird, and wife, Wendy Wark, and their three children.