Charles Steger and Ed Murphy were, without dispute, two of the most important visionaries ever to live in Western Virginia. Separately they did much for respective Virginia Tech and Carilion, two of the largest employers in the region. Together, they created the Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School and Research Institute in Roanoke.
Yesterday, Steger joined Ed Murphy, who died in mid-October with cancer. Steger, VirginiaTech’s 15th president, was 70.
Steger and Murphy, CEO of Carilion, envisioned, then cobbled together the Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School and Research Institute, a futuristic institute on the grounds of Carilion’s Riverside campus in Roanoke. The college has become world-famous in a few years. To those who said it couldn’t be done, Steger and Murphy thumbed their noses and forged ahead with multiple partnerships and their national network of associates.
Steger also led Tech through its darkest period, April 16, 2007, when a gunman murdered 32 Tech students, creating worldwide outrage.
Here’s how the Virginia Tech press release remembers Steger:
“During Steger’s presidential tenure, Virginia Tech grew in enrollment from 28,000 to 31,000, increased graduate enrollment by 12 percent, raised more than $1 billion in private funding, formed a school of biomedical engineering, created a public-private school of medicine, joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and constructed the Moss Arts Center and the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington as part of the largest building boom in university history.
“Under his leadership, Virginia Tech charted a course to become a top research university; a year after his retirement, the university’s research expenditures ranked 39th in the nation. During his presidency, Virginia Tech increased its total research expenditures from $192 million to more than $450 million.
“Steger’s ground-breaking partnership with Carilion Clinic led to the creation of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, forming the fifth medical school in Virginia. The medical school, which graduated its first class in 2014, will fully integrate into Virginia Tech and become its ninth college on July 1.
“A hallmark of his administration was the realization of a 50-year dream for Hokie fans—entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2004. The university’s football program, led by Steger’s undergraduate classmate Frank Beamer, won four conference titles in the first eight years of ACC play.
“Steger calmly guided the university when it lost almost 25 percent of its state funding in the early 2000s. He developed alternative business models and new funding streams, increased philanthropic support, and fostered innovative public-private partnerships, helping Virginia Tech not only adapt, but also thrive. He also championed efforts to grow Virginia Tech’s reputation for high-quality academic and research programs.”