Virginia Tech sophomore Dieter Seltzer died of unknown causes Tuesday. He was away from the university at the time.
Dieter, a philosophy major, was an active thinker remembered for stirring thoughtful discussion. Joseph Pitt, a Tech philosophy professor and friend of the Seltzer family, said Dieter was simply interested in making the world a better place.
“I think he added a real dimension of intellectual depth to the student body’s conversation,” Pitt said. “Dieter wasn’t content to talk about football scores — he did, he knew all the scores. But first and foremost in his mind was what’s wrong and what’s right in society, and how can we improve it.”
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Pitt’s ties to the Seltzer family run deep. He served as an academic advisor to Michael Seltzer — Dieter’s father — who attended graduate school at Tech. While Pitt was advising Michael, his son Dieter was born. Gabi Seltzer, a senior, preceded her brother Dieter in choosing to study philosophy with Pitt as her advisor.
“I’ve known Dieter since he was two days old,” Pitt said. “They have been a family for me.”
He said Dieter immersed himself in political and philosophical discussions.
“He was rather passionate about the world of politics, particularly what was wrong with this country and how to make it right,” Pitt said. “He had learned how to articulate those dissatisfactions.”
Many of his points were made in the pages of the Collegiate Times. Dieter and Gabi wrote a recurring opinion feature this academic year called “Relatively Speaking,” where the siblings presented different perspectives on political and cultural issues. Gabi also served as opinions editor for the paper during the 2010-11 school year.
The Seltzer family’s deep connection to Tech was evident in Dieter, Pitt said.
“If you encountered Dieter, he was always in Virginia Tech clothing,” he said. “He thought Virginia Tech was a valuable place to be.”
Dieter was involved in several clubs and athletic pursuits, including the Tech men’s water polo club team.
Still, Pitt said Dieter’s sights were set much higher, on improving the world around him.
“I think the world is going to be a poorer place without him. He was going to make a difference — a real difference.”