BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Virginia Tech University President Charles Steger, who led the school during the 2007 mass shooting, announced Monday he was stepping down.
Steger, 65, announced his plans to retire in an email to students, faculty and staff. Steger said he'll remain on the job until his replacement is found. The school said a search would begin immediately.
"When one is totally absorbed in doing what one loves, fourteen years pass in an instant. Serving as president of this great university has been the most demanding and yet the most exhilarating and fulfilling experience of my life - from the exuberance at the beginning of the fall semester to the elation at commencement and every single day in between," Steger said.
Steger is a three-time Virginia Tech grad. He became the youngest dean of architecture in the nation when he assumed the head of the university's College of Architecture and Urban Studies at age 33. He was named president in 2000.
While he has won much praise for his fundraising abilities, increasing the school's research capabilities and bringing its athletics program into the Atlantic Coast Conference, Steger's handling of the April 16, 2007, shooting massacre has been the source of criticism and lawsuits.
Some victims and parents blamed Steger for not ordering the campus warned sooner that a shooter had killed two students in a residence hall. Two hours later, when the alert was issued that a shooter was on the loose, student gunman Seung-Hui Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 additional students and faculty before turning the gun on himself as police closed in.
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in June that Steger should be put on trial for his actions that day.