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When Chancellor Charles Sorensen retires Aug. 15, he will go down in University of Wisconsin-Stout history for his 26 years of leadership in innovation and carrying on the vision of the school's founder.
Sorensen's impact has earned him the prestigious James Huff Stout Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UW-Stout Alumni Association. The honor has been awarded only to a select few who embody the principles of the school's founder.
James Huff Stout was a forward thinker who believed a manual training school with mechanic arts, domestic arts and art would build qualities students needed to succeed in the world.
"Chancellor Sorensen is the perfect recipient of the James Huff Stout Award," said Juliet Fox, Alumni Association director. "He has carried the essence of James Huff Stout's vision of learning through involvement into modern times."
Fox presented the award to Sorensen at his campus retirement celebration April 30.
Examples of Sorensen's commitment to UW-Stout's legacy can be seen in growing enrollment, high graduate employment rates, boosts in private donations, the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award and UW-Stout's polytechnic designation. Yet his impact is measured in more than numbers and awards, those who nominated him said.
"A great leader sees what others can't or don't feel confident they can achieve," said Bill Otto, 1978 alumnus and executive vice president of Kalahari Resorts. "They foster an environment and offer encouragement to their team to take calculated risk and affect changes. Chuck is certainly such a leader."
Business owners Dwight and Linda Davis of Greenheck Corporation, 1966 and 1967 alumni, pointed out Sorensen's unwavering commitment to UW-Stout's relevancy, excellence and uniqueness. "He is always striving to assure learning experiences that will enhance the ability of graduates to excel in the competitive world of work," they said in a joint statement.
Sorensen's involvement in community organizations has extended his impact beyond the university, they said.
Otto noted UW-Stout's technological advances and how the region has benefited from the university's strength and vitality. "The university is the economic centerpiece of the city. As such, it has a moral and civic responsibility to be a good corporate citizen. To be sure, Chuck has been very conscious of the impact the university has on the citizens of Menomonie."
As a symbol of Sorensen's visionary thinking, 2005 graduate Mike Route created a customized wrought iron piece of art that was presented to Sorensen for the James Huff Stout Award.
The Stout Alumni Association also designated Sorensen as an honorary alumnus.
Click here for details of James Huff Stout's establishment of the Stout Manual Training School, which later became UW-Stout.
Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen speaks April 30 during his campus retirement reception, when he received the James Huff Stout Award.