Former Purdue University President Steven Beering dies at 87

When asked once what he did for a living, Beering said, "I build people."

Posted: Apr 6, 2020 9:33 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 7:33 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Former Purdue University President Steven Beering has passed away at the age of 87.

Beering led Purdue from 1983 to 2000. During that time, Purdue expanded its international efforts, added 20 major buildings, and grew its liberal arts programs.


Purdue University President Steven C. Beering with President Ronald Reagan during Reagan’s visit to Purdue (Purdue University photo)

Beering came to Purdue after serving as dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Indiana University Medical Center. Before that, he also served 12 years in the air force, and was also a physician to the nation's first astronauts and to President Dwight Eisenhower.

Beering will become one of just four people to be buried on campus. He will join his wife, Jane, at the top of Slayter Hill.

“The terrible tyranny that brought about World War II bestowed an unintended blessing on Indiana, Purdue University, and America when it sent the family of a young Steve Beering to our country,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “His 18-year leadership of our institution was but one chapter in an epic life of serial achievement. He and Jane will rest together on our campus’s Slayter Hill, and forever in our memories and in the annals of the greatest Boilermakers.”

At the time of his retirement, Beering's name had appeared on the diplomas of more than half of the university's living alumni. According to a news release, he called them all, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends, the "Purdue family".

When asked once what he did for a living, Beering said, "I build people." As the university grew, Beering often said, "There is no limit to what we can achieve if we don't care who gets the credit."

Beering oversaw several campus construction projects, including the Bell Tower, Class of 1950 Lecture Hall, Pao Hall for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the Black Cultural Center. Other construction projects completed under his administration in West Lafayette include Knoy Hall of Technology, the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building; Schleman Hall of Student Services; Nelson Hall of Food Science, Hillenbrand Hall, a student residence; Mollenkopf Athletic Center; a $32 million power plant expansion; and major additions to the engineering, veterinary medicine, and athletics complexes. Plans were begun for the expansion of the Krannert School of Management with a new building that would be known as Rawls Hall.

The university's Liberal Arts and Education Building, Beering Hall, is named after him.

Beering is survived by his three sons and five grandchildren.

No immediate services are planned due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A celebration of life is being planned when conditions allow. 

Memorial contributions for the Beering Scholars program should be mailed to the Purdue Foundation, 403 W. Wood St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2007. Checks should be made payable to the Purdue Foundation, and the memo line should read "Beering Scholars in memory of Steve Beering." Contributions also may be made online at Giving.Purdue.edu/BeeringScholars.

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