Chancellor Sorensen's Baldrige Award Acceptance Speech

Award Ceremony --- March 7, 2002
Washington, D.C.

Charles W. Sorensen
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Stout

President Bush, Secretary Evans, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased, I am proud, I am humbled to accept the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award on behalf of a fine university --- the University of Wisconsin-Stout. While I have this privilege of being on stage today, this award --- the first ever given to a university --- is really the reflection of a quality, dedicated faculty, academic staff, and clerical and service staff who made this possible. The beneficiaries are the 8,000 students that we serve annually, the taxpayers of the great state of Wisconsin, and of this country. The Baldrige Award is a demonstration of American dedication to hard work, focus, and commitment to excellence.

In many respects, UW-Stout began this journey over a century ago when James Huff Stout established the Stout Institute to meet theworkforce challenges of the industrial revolution. Women were to study domestic sciences, and men mechanical arts. We have traveled a long way since 1891, but our mission remains constant -- provide program and educational quality to meet the new challenges of the 21st Century, a digital century, a century of the knowledge revolution. When we officially adopted the Baldrige criteria in 1999, we did so because they offered the opportunity to demonstrate that we practiced performance excellence, and to demonstrate that public higher education could and must be accountable.

Mr. President, serving in a public state university is a privilege for me. Following World War II, we witnessed one of the great educational revolutions in world history --- the establishment of the GI Bill that sent tens of thousands of men and women to colleges and universities who otherwise would not have or could not have attended a post secondary educational institution. We saw an explosion of state universities in the 1960's to serve this new population. This transformed our society not only economically but, politically and socially as well. Now we are called upon to provide the same service --- educate men and women ready and able to keep this country competitive economically, and to preserve this great experiment in democracy.

We protect the great American dream by providing access and educational opportunities for men and women. In the best tradition of public higher education in America, we feed both the economic engines of society and provide a constant stream of educated men and women ready to defend the great principles of democracy. We now have a way to judge our excellence --- the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. I proudly accept this on behalf of a great university and I thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing how important this is to our future.