Virginia Western Community College lost a dear friend and inspiring leader on Sunday evening when Educational Foundation Board Chairman Charles William Steger Jr. died at age 70. Dr. Steger, the President Emeritus at Virginia Tech, served for three years leading the Educational Foundation Board of Directors. He will be remembered as a committed advocate for the community college’s mission and its goal of making college possible for any student in the Roanoke Region.
“I had the great pleasure to work alongside Charles for several years and was overwhelmed by his commitment to higher education,” said Virginia Western President Dr. Robert. H. Sandel. “He made an incredible impact leading Virginia Tech through its greatest period of growth. He also believed college was for everyone, no matter what financial or life burdens they may face. His dedication to the Virginia Western Educational Foundation reflects that. We have lost a great champion and a great friend.”
Dr. Steger’s vision for the Educational Foundation included the recent launch of its second major fundraising campaign to benefit the Community College Access Program (CCAP), a nationally recognized effort that provides up to three years of tuition to qualified Roanoke Valley High School graduates.
Neil Wilkin Jr., CEO of Roanoke’s Optical Cable Corp., served as Foundation Board Vice Chairman under Dr. Steger. “It’s no surprise that Charles showed great leadership on the Board, given his outstanding career at Virginia Tech,” Wilkin said. “But I think what needs to also be recognized is the genuine empathy he demonstrated for Virginia Western students. He was passionate about creating a better future for them in Roanoke.”
Amanda Mansfield, the Foundation’s Donor Relations Coordinator, said Dr. Steger understood the financial realities of Virginia Western’s students and committed his time to directly helping them. Earlier this spring, he backed a student-led effort to raise money for a student book and emergency fund.
“We were deeply honored that in his retirement Dr. Steger chose to help students who were very clearly dear to his heart, those who grew up in his native Southwest Virginia,” Mansfield said. “He was a kind and generous man, and will be greatly missed.”
Virginia Western and the Virginia Western Educational Foundation send their heart-felt condolences to Dr. Steger’s family and friends.