Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spotlight: Charles Steger

“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,” Steger said in a statement. Among Steger’s accomplishments, the statement said, were growth on many measures. Enrollment rose to 31,087 from 27,869; the university raised more than $1 billion in private funding; and the campus gained more than 2.5 million square feet of building space. Virginia Tech also formed a biomedical engineering school and a medical school.
Hampton Roads:
Virginia Tech president Charles Steger announced today in a letter to the university community that he plans to retire this year. He'll remain on the job until the school's Board of Visitors finds a replacement.

Steger, who has served since 2000 and will give Virginia Tech's commencement speech this week, had an integral role in several big sports stories over the years for Virginia Tech. Here's a look back:

-- 2003, Virginia Tech leaves the Big East to join the ACC. On June 28, not long after publicly saying Tech would not accept an invitation to the league, Steger sent out a letter detailing the reasons that the Hokies would leave the Big East, their home for the previous 12 years in football, to join the ACC.

In it, he outlined the many financial reasons for Virginia Tech to make the move, words that are extremely similar to the rhetoric in the most recent round of conference expansion.

"It is critical that Virginia Tech be a member of a financially viable conference," he wrote. "What if athletic conference revenues were reduced by several million per year? Coach [Frank] Beamer advised me that simply the uncertainty of the future of the Big East is negatively affecting football recruiting. If we cannot attract good players, our talented coaching staff will be the target of other schools. Finding ourselves several million in the red each year, we could be forced to raise our student athletic fee or begin to eliminate several non-revenue intercollegiate sports to address the problem."

-- 2006, Marcus Vick dismissed from the football team. Steger announced the dismissal of the oft-troubled quarterback after the school and athletic department gave him multiple chances to turn things around.

Vick's numerous legal problems coupled with his infamous stomp of Louisville's Elvis Dumervil in the Gator Bowl eventually led to his dismissal. Steger had previously suspended Vick in 2004, although the quarterback was later given a chance to return to the team.

"The university provided one last opportunity for Vick to become a citizen of the university and readmitted him in January 2005, with the proviso that any future problems would result in automatic dismissal from the team," Steger said at the time.

-- 2012, Chairs BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. Although he repeatedly declined to comment on it, Steger had an active role in changes to college football's postseason format last year, sitting as the chair on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

The 12-member group ultimately approved the new four-team playoff, even if it was the commissioners of the big conferences and the AD at Notre Dame who came up with all the details.

ACC commissioner John Swofford praised Steger's leadership afterward to the Daily Press: “Charles Steger just did a tremendous job in chairing this group, He’s got a terrific way about him. He’s an outstanding consensus-builder, and he was very well-versed in running the meeting. I think he was prepared to lock everybody in the room until 10 o’clock and not feed them before letting anyone out without a decision.”

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