BLACKSBURG, Va. – Former Virginia Tech President Charles William Steger Jr., who led the institution during a 2007 mass shooting and through a period of great change, has died, the university announced Monday. He was 70.
Steger, a Virginia Tech graduate who spent most of his professional career at the university, died Sunday evening at his home in Blacksburg, the university said in a statement Monday morning. A cause of death was not provided.
Steger's family notified the university of his death, Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said.
During his time as the university's 15th president, from 2000 to 2014, Virginia Tech increased its enrollment, raised more than $1 billion in private funding, formed a school of biomedical engineering, created a public-private school of medicine, and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to the university's news release.
Steger also led the university in the aftermath of the April 16, 2007, massacre, when a gunman killed 32 faculty members and students. It was, at the time, the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
"He cared deeply for Virginia Tech and courageously led the Hokie Nation through a terrible tragedy," Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement about Steger. "His leadership in Virginia changed the landscape of higher education, and his strategic vision propelled Virginia Tech to be one of the finest research institutions in the world."
Steger earned a bachelor's degree in 1970 and a master's degree in 1971 from Virginia Tech, both in architecture. He went on to earn a third degree from the university, a Ph.D. in environmental sciences and engineering, in 1978.
He left a private-sector career in 1976 to pursue his passion for teaching at Virginia Tech, according to the news release. He served as a faculty member, college dean, acting vice president for public service and then vice president for development and university relations before becoming president in 2000.
After his retirement as president, Steger served as executive director of the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience, a Blacksburg-based group that brings together university researchers and partner organizations to study urbanization and regional development.
"Charles believed in the importance of Virginia Tech and its role as a public land-grant institution," said Minnis Ridenour, a former Tech official who the university said worked alongside Steger for more than 40 years. "A lifetime scholar, educator, and leader, Dr. Steger ensured that Virginia Tech created an impact on a national and international level," Ridenour said in a statement.
The university said Steger is survived by his wife of 48 years, Janet, and a number of other family members.