Commencement speaker draws lessons from Chancellor Sorensen
May 10, 2014
Valuable lessons can be learned from the
26-year career of Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, said the president of the University
of Wisconsin-Stout Faculty Senate during commencement ceremonies Saturday at
"I think these are some lessons that
everyone could benefit from, especially those who aspire to leadership," said
Petre (Nelu) Ghenciu, who delivered the commencement keynote address.
A total of 1,021 undergraduates received
their diplomas during the 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies. A total of 193
graduate students will receive their degrees during a Graduate School
Sorensen announced in December that he
would retire Aug. 15, marking his 26th year as the sixth chancellor in UW-Stout
history. Five finalists have been identified in the search and screen process
to find Sorensen's replacement; Ghenciu also is chairing that process.
Here are lessons Ghenciu learned from
working with Sorensen in the past year:
"You need to listen. No one can learn
anything if they are talking all the time. During meetings, Chancellor Sorensen
says very little. But when he does speak, people listen.
"You need to take chances.Not everything Chancellor Sorensen has
proposed or worked on during his time here has succeeded. … But none of (his) accomplishments … would
have been possible without the chancellor personally sticking his neck out and
trusting his judgment that the reward was worth the risk. People who never take
a risk never achieve anything worthwhile.
"You need to be a lifelong learner. After
earning a doctorate in history from his beloved Michigan State University and
after spending 26 years as our chancellor, Chancellor Sorensen is as eager to
learn as ever. Just ask him about the latest book he is reading. Learning is
not a destination; it is a journey."
Ghenciu earlier recounted what he believed
to be the major accomplishments of Sorensen's tenure, including being
designated Wisconsin's Polytechnic University; growing the number of
undergraduate majors from 20 to 45 and adding the first doctorate; numerous
building projects; instituting the undergraduate laptop program; seeing
enrollment increase from 7,000 to nearly 9,300; and winning the Malcolm
Baldrige National Quality Award.
"We measure our success by what happens to
our graduates once they enter the world of work," Ghenciu added. "Even through
the worst recession since the Great Depression, UW-Stout under Chancellor
Sorensen's guidance has maintained an amazing 97 percent employment rate for
Ghenciu, a native of Romania, thanked
Sorensen for his 26 years of service to UW-Stout and wished him many happy
years in retirement.
Sorensen then conferred the degrees, but not before wishing all the mothers in attendance a happy Mother’s Day. He said he never would have started his academic career without the “nagging” of his late mother.
Deans of the colleges presented the diplomas. During the morning session, the family of Jesse D. Jensen, a senior majoring in industrial design who died in January, received her posthumous degree.
Jackie Weissenburger, provost and vice
chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, presided over the ceremonies. Mark
Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, welcomed the
graduates into the Stout Alumni Association.
Weissenburger, in remarks prepared for the Graduate
School commencement Sunday, told those receiving advanced degrees that they
were "fortified with one of the most important tools needed to navigate your
future. It's not the diploma alone that counts — it is about what you've
learned along the way and what you do with the education you have achieved in
your journey to graduation today.
"Your future is in your hands — no one
else's. Persevere, take risks, be a lifelong learner, embrace a vision for the
future and take advantage of the opportunity provided by your advanced degree
Petre (Nelu) Ghenciu, chair of the Faculty Senate and commencement keynote speaker, addresses graduates during the morning ceremony Saturday, May 10, at Johnson Fieldhouse. Seated is Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen.