Roosevelt D. Steptoe, former chancellor of Southern University and A&M College, died on Friday, Nov. 20 at the age of 86. Steptoe was at the helm of the of the flagship campus of the Southern University System from 1975 to 1982. He was the first chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus after the System was established.
Steptoe, who held a bachelor’s degree in economics from Southern, began his professional career at his alma mater in 1967, serving as director of economic and transportation research, and later as director of economics research projects and professor of economics. He served at Southern until 1985. Later, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. He also served as an assistant professor of economics at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, and Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama.
A Liberty, Mississippi native, Steptoe’s career spanned not only higher education campuses, but the communities to which he was connected. He was a member of several organizations and agencies, including serving as the chairman of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, New Orleans branch.
Steptoe was also a published author of several articles concerning transportation, economics, and other community-focused issues. He held a special interest in researching these topics with disadvantaged populations in mind.
A lifetime member of the Southern University Alumni Federation, Steptoe held a master’s degree in economics from Atlanta University (now Clark-Atlanta University) in Atlanta and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts. He completed post-doctoral study in urban development at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.