Editor's Note: On May 6, 2018, the Virginia Tech community suffered a great loss with the passing of President Emeritus Charles Steger. His vision, however, lives on: to establish our university as a global leader in cross-cutting research inititives. Few places on campus bear this legacy more directly, or more proudly, than the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. This story from 2016 sums up why our home is now known as Steger Hall.
The two separately constructed parts of the facility that collectively house the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech will now be known as Steger Hall.
The name honors Virginia Tech President Emeritus Charles W. Steger, one of the longest serving and most consequential presidential leaders in the history of Virginia Tech. Steger served as university president from 2000 to 2014.
“The Steger presidency was defined by his commitment to research, economic development and outreach; partnerships with other universities and the private sector; innovations in information technology; and the arts,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Charles charted a bold course to bolster the research enterprise and compete among the nation’s premier research universities. His vision to establish broad-based research institutes like the Biocomplexity Institute, capable of garnering large-scale, multidisciplinary sponsored research grants, enabled Virginia Tech’s sponsored research to grow from just under $193 million in fiscal year 2000 to more than $513 million in fiscal year 2014.”
Today, the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech is dedicated to designing computational methods and tools to solve global challenges facing human health, habitat, and well-being. Using world-class bioinformatics, computational, and laboratory facilities, researchers generate, interpret, and apply vast amounts of data from basic research to critical issues, including those involving biomedical issues, policy analytics, and national security.
Steger Hall, formerly called the Life Sciences facility, houses the Biocomplexity Institute, one of seven research institutes at Virginia Tech.
“President Steger had a vision: Virginia Tech researchers empowered to collaborate across disciplines and develop sustainable solutions to large-scale problems” said Chris Barrett, executive director of the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. “Fifteen years since our founding, we’ve seen the success that model can yield. Virginia Tech is helping to guide the global conversation on data-driven decision-making and intelligent infrastructure. We’re extremely proud to be carrying that legacy forward.”
During his presidency, Steger adopted a business model that invested in seven large centralized institutes: the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences; Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; Biocomplexity Institute; Fralin Life Sciences Institute; the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. Today, these seven institutes allow Virginia Tech to compete for and win large multidisciplinary contracts.
For its part, the Biocomplexity Institute, which began as the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute in 2000, has secured more than $219 million in external research funding since its founding.
In addition to receiving three academic degrees from Virginia Tech, Steger has spent virtually his entire career at the university leading it from one superlative to another. In addition to increasing its research portfolio by more than $300 million, under his leadership, Virginia Tech grew enrollment from 27,869 to 31,087, increased graduate enrollment by 12 percent, raised more than $1 billion in private funding, added more than 3 million square feet of buildings, formed a school of biomedical engineering, created a school of medicine, and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After completing his presidential role in 2014, Steger continues to serve Virginia Tech as the executive director of the university’s Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience, leading Virginia Tech and partner organizations in developing an expanded knowledge base on infrastructural resilience.