Virginia Tech to remember life, legacy of Charles Steger with ceremony

Steger is regarded as one of the university's most influential presidents

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Blacksburg and Virginia Tech communities will be remembering former university president Charles Steger on Monday. A service to commemorate his life and legacy will be held at the Moss Arts Center on campus. 

Thousands are expected to attend as they remember the man who helped to lead Virginia Tech through a period of unprecedented growth and historic transformation.

Steger spent nearly all of his 40-year professional career at the university, where he also earned three degrees. He is regarded by many as one of Virginia Tech’s most influential presidents in its 146-year history. 

He led the school through drastic state budget cuts, yet was still able to bring in major expansion. He oversaw construction of new buildings, growing enrollment and helped to create the medical school and research institute. 

He also helped to lead the university and community through the aftermath of the April 16 tragedy. 

“He made a difference in the lives of so many,” says Mark Owczarski, a university spokesperson. “Not just Hokies, but people all throughout Southwest Virginia, Virginia and the nation and higher education. He was a remarkable person.”

During his time at the helm, Virginia Tech’s enrollment grew from 28,000 to 31,000 students and graduate enrollment grew by 12 percent. He was able to help raise more than $1 billion in private funding and earned Virginia Tech’s spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was also behind the new school of biomedical engineering and construction on the Moss Arts Center, where Monday's ceremony will be taking place. 

When Steger retired from Virginia Tech back in 2014, he took on the role of education foundation board chairman at Virginia Western Community College. 

“He wanted to see everybody have an opportunity to go to college and he gave up his time and effort to make that happen,” says Dr. Robert Sandel, president of VWCC. “I mean he didn’t have to do it, he just made time for Virginia Western. I’m just so sad today.”

Sandel says when Steger spoke, people listened and that translated into a future for thousands of students and hope for a community in need of a leader like Charles Steger. 

Steger passed away at his home in Blacksburg on May 6. 

The ceremony will be held at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, starting at 1:30 p.m. There will be overflow seating across the street in Squires Student Center.

For anyone unable to attend, Virginia Tech will also provide a live stream, click here for more details.