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UC Mourns Passing of President Emeritus Joseph A. Steger

The University of Cincinnati community was saddened to learn of the death of Joseph A. Steger, who led the university as president for 19 transformative years.

Date: 5/9/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Greg Hand
Phone: (513) 556-1822

UC ingot   Joseph A. Steger, the 24th President of the University of Cincinnati, died May 9 at the age of 76 in Cincinnati. He leaves his wife, Carol, son Marty (husband of Rhonda Steger), daughter Tracy McClorey (wife of Jeff) and 3 grandchildren, Dillan, Natalie, and Zemmie. Steger was named president on July 6, 1984, and served through Sept. 30, 2003. His 19-year term is the second-longest in UC’s history.

As president, Steger directed the dramatic rebirth of UC’s campus through the adoption of a world-renowned Campus Master Plan, launched in 1989. UC achieved increasing renown for fiscal responsibility during his presidency, with one survey naming UC the most fiscally efficient university studied. Throughout his term, indicators of academic quality and research productivity climbed dramatically.
President Emeritus Joseph A. Steger
President Emeritus Joseph A. Steger

Born Feb. 17, 1937, in Philadelphia, Steger came to UC in 1982 as Senior Vice President and Provost, recruited by then-president Henry R. Winkler. At the time, he was director of organizational development and human resources for Colt Industries. Throughout his career, he held management positions in both industry and academia including the State University of New York at Albany, Prudential Financial Inc. and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

Throughout his career, he consulted worldwide with both government and private organizations including the People's Republic of China, New York City Police and Tax departments, ARAMCO, General Electric, National Science Foundation, and Texaco. He also served on various state and federal advisory boards and commissions.

Steger earned his PhD in psychophysics and MS in experimental psychology from Kansas State University after graduating from Gettysburg College with a degree in psychology. Gettysburg named him a distinguished alumnus in 1987.

He began his academic career in 1966 at SUNY, where he was named outstanding educator in the SUNY system for 1971. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he directed a project studying the early identification of management talent in engineering and science. He was named dean of RPI’s School of Management in 1974, vice president for administration and budget in 1977, and was acting provost for the 1978-79 academic year.

As UC’s provost, Steger served as the chief academic officer and introduced programs to increase support for instructional equipment and library holdings.

As president, Steger oversaw the revitalization of UC’s undergraduate curriculum, particularly in adapting to online and digital tools, and supported innovative programs in teacher education, international co op, and university wide honors classes. He has served as chairman and was instrumental in establishing the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Sciences, a cooperative technology transfer program involving state and local governments and industry in addition to the University.  He was involved in bringing Drake Center, the regional rehabilitation hospital, into the University Medical Center and served as chair of the Drake board.

While president at UC, he served as vice chairman of TechSolve (formerly the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Sciences), chairman of the board of Drake Center, chair of the Ohio Supercomputer Center Governing Board, member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors, member of the Ohio Aerospace Institute Board of Trustees, and member of the National Commission on Cooperative Education. Steger also served on the Milacron, Provident Financial, and Crucible Materials Boards.

He published more than 70 articles and edited a book on statistics while conducting research and consulting on the management of technology transfer, identification of management talent, and the role of higher education in economic development. In recognition of his contributions to science, he was elected a Fellow in both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

Recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Akron, Xavier University and Hebrew Union College, Steger has worked with leading national and international companies as a consultant.  He was appointed by the governor of Ohio to the state¹s Task Force for Managing the Future, vice chair of the Ohio Science and Technology Council, and to the board of the Ohio Aerospace Institute.  Locally, he has served on the blue ribbon commissions appointed to study the city’s infrastructure needs and the public school system, and served as chair of the Legacy and Culture Committee for Cincinnati 2012.  He also served on the Metropolitan Growth Alliance Planning Committee.

In 2004, the University of Cincinnati awarded Steger an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center, located on UC’s MainStreet district, was named in his honor. One of the most unique buildings on MainStreet due to its 800-foot length and 40-foot width. Steger Student Life Center houses offices and meeting spaces for student groups and organizations.

As a devoted husband, Joe and his surviving wife, Carol, enjoyed getaways in their cabin on Lake Huron.  He was an avid sailor, a world traveler, and a civil war buff who gave lectures in his free time on Abraham Lincoln who he greatly admired.    He and Carol always made time for family, hosting gourmet dinners on weekends, and often baby sitting their grandchildren, where Joe was sure to regale them with his amazing stories.  His children are both UC graduates, and two of his grandchildren are currently attending UC.  He will be remembered not only for his many accomplishments, but also his success as a loving husband, father, grandfather, teacher, and friend to so many. 

Contributions can be made to the Joseph A. Steger Scholarship fund at the University of Cincinnati, or the Alois Alzheimers Center Foundation.  A memorial service will be held, to be announced at a later date.