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"I consider it a privilege to have served as chancellor of UW-Stout for 26 years," Sorensen said in a statement sent to students, faculty and staff. "I have worked with talented, bright and dedicated students and employees. Together we have introduced and implemented some very substantial changes that have strengthened this institution and added value to the degrees our students earn."
The UW System Board of Regents will launch a national search to identify Sorensen's successor, with plans to name the new chancellor by Aug. 15. That process begins with the appointment of a broadly representative campus search and screen committee.
The UW System president will invite faculty, staff and student governance groups to nominate members of that committee, which will be responsible for identifying a slate of finalists, to be considered by a special Regent selection committee.
"Change is always difficult, and I recognize this," Sorensen said in his message to campus. "I will work closely with campus leaders and the UW System to set the stage for a successful search for the seventh chancellor of UW-Stout. This is an excellent university and should attract outstanding candidates."
Sorensen added: "I want to emphasize that I will remain fully engaged as chancellor throughout this transition period and focus sharply on moving the campus forward. We will have ample opportunity in the next few months to engage in meaningful dialogue about the issues we face."
He also said he and his wife, Toni Poll-Sorensen, a retired UW-Eau Claire professor, would remain in the Menomonie area.
In the 26 years under Sorensen, UW-Stout has grown in enrollment, physical size and national stature. The changes that occurred under Sorensen's leadership cover nearly all aspects of university operations. They include:
- Enrollment: Since 1988, enrollment has risen from 7,092 to 9,286, an increase of 31 percent.
- Academics: The number of undergraduate majors has risen since 1988 from 20 to 44 and the number of graduate majors from 18 to 23, plus three advanced graduate programs.″
- Recognition: UW-Stout won the national Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001. In 2007 it was designated as Wisconsin's Polytechnic University. It is listed as one of the top 15 regional public universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.
- Physical campus: Since 1988 there have been five new buildings, two major additions and seven major renovations.
- Innovation: The eStout laptop program was implemented in 2002. It provides laptop computers to all undergraduates and is the foundation for a campuswide digital learning environment.
- Employment success: Maintained the employment rate for new graduates at or above 97 percent, even through the worst recession since the Great Depression.
- Outreach: UW-Stout opened the Stout Technology and Business Park, Discovery Center, Center for Applied Ethics and expanded the Cooperative Education Program.
- Budget: The university's annual budget has grown since 1988 from $66 million to $228 million.
- Advancement: Stout University Foundation assets have grown since 1988 from $2.3 million to $43 million.
Sorensen began as UW-Stout chancellor Aug. 15, 1988.
He began teaching in 1970 at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich. He eventually was named history department chair, assistant dean and dean. In 1981 he attended Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. In 1984 Sorensen was named vice president for Academic Affairs at Winona State University in
Sorensen graduated in 1964 from Augustana College, in Rock Island, Ill., with a bachelor's degree in in history and political science. He then earned a master's degree in history in 1967 from Illinois State and a doctorate in American history in 1973 from Michigan State University.
For more on Sorensen's history at UW-Stout, click here.