When one is totally absorbed in doing what one loves, 14 years pass in an instant. Serving as the 15th president of Virginia Tech has been the most demanding and yet the most exhilarating and fulfilling experience of my life. Years ago, I left a career in the private sector to pursue my passion for teaching and my profound belief in the transformative power of education. It was the right decision. Together with a tremendous faculty and staff, we now have achieved most of the goals that I set out in my inauguration speech in 2000, and we have also seized opportunities to advance the strategic goals of the university.
Last month, I shared with the university Board of Visitors my plans to step down as president. The board has started the search process; I will continue to serve as president until my successor begins work.
These years have been the highlight of my career in higher education, and it has been my privilege to serve as president during a period in which we have strengthened our academic programs and expanded our research and outreach programs. Even as we have adjusted to the decline in state support, we have found ways to continue to enhance our academic mission and broaden our national and international presence. Our reputation is stronger than ever.
The strength of our faculty has been central to sustaining us through these challenging times, and they have brought national and international recognition to the university through their teaching and scholarship. I will always be indebted and grateful to our faculty and staff for their commitment to this university and its mission of discovering and sharing knowledge in the tradition of our land-grant heritage.
As I reflect on my years as president, I am proud of the accomplishments and advances this university has achieved through the efforts of many. Our students are the most qualified in our history. We have increased our student financial aid programs. Our research portfolio has grown from $192 million in 2000 to $450 million today.
We established the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Since 2000, we have added or have in design more than 3 million square feet of space valued at $1.08 billion on the Blacksburg campus and elsewhere, primarily for much-needed new classrooms and instructional space, research, student services, and athletics. We have expanded our presence in the National Capital Region with the new Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington.
We have enhanced the presence and practice of the arts through the arts initiative and the soon-to-open Center for the Arts. We have strengthened our international focus through expanded outreach programs and study-abroad opportunities for our students.
And finally, we joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
I am pleased to have led the university through the recently completed capital campaign resulting in $1.1 billion in private support. Our success in all of these endeavors illustrates the firm commitment to Virginia Tech by our alumni and supporters, who are central to ensuring a strong future.
In the coming months, I look forward to thanking the many individuals who have contributed to the continued growth and development of Virginia Tech. I am indebted to our faculty, staff, students, and to you, our famously committed and passionate alumni, for active engagement and commitment to the university.
I especially appreciate the students who have passed through this university during my tenure and who are making a difference in the world in which we live and work. These inquiring minds are the future of this institution. Over the course of time, they, too, become passionate and committed Hokies like you, helping sustain the quality and outreach of Virginia Tech.
This university and our students have been my passion for more than four decades, and I have great optimism for the future. The promise of this university eclipses all the challenges. We are inventing the future. We have an indomitable spirit. We have the entrepreneurial culture, the creativity, the ability to leverage our strengths, and the willingness to take calculated risks that set us apart from other universities and enable us to move forward. We have tremendous students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this dynamic university as its president.
... The commonwealth will forever be indebted to Dr. Steger for his stalwart leadership and strategic vision in transforming the land-grant institution into one of the leading research institutions in the nation. ... He played a key role in advising our administration to ensure success of our aggressive higher education agenda, and has proven a leader to the other college and university presidents to find innovative ways to meet our goals. ... While the commonwealth will miss Charles Steger, I wish him the best in his retirement and offer the thanks of a grateful Virginia for all he has done to solidify Virginia Tech's reputation as a premier university throughout the nation and around the globe."
Charles Steger earned three degrees from Virginia Tech and devoted most of his professional life to his alma mater, working tirelessly to push it into the top tier of the nation's elite universities. ... Steger moved into the president's office at the dawn of a new millennium and moved Tech on a path toward elevating its research enterprise and redefining its land-grant mission for a rapidly changing economy. ... Steger set ambitious goals for his alma mater, pushing Tech to be a leader in higher education while staying true to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). He could not have envisioned the challenges Tech would face when he assumed leadership in 2000. But through triumph and tragedy, he kept Tech striving toward excellence."
We sadly accept President Steger's desire to step down as president. He has had a long and successful tenure, but we understand his desire to ratchet back the extraordinary commitment of a major university president. Charles has truly been outstanding, visionary, and productive. I believe when history looks back upon his tenure as president, he will be ranked among the best of Virginia Tech's strong leaders. He has advanced Virginia Tech's position and our ability to serve the commonwealth on many levels."
Produced by University Relations