Wilson Sorenson, the second president of UVU and longest-tenured at 36 years, passed away Thursday July 30 at the age of 92.
Sorenson pioneered the way for UVU and was able to witness each phase of the school’s many transitions since the beginning of his involvement in 1941.
First known as the Central Utah Vocational School, the institution has undergone phases including the Utah Trade Technical Institute, Utah Technical College, Utah Valley Community College, Utah Valley State College, up until our current Utah Valley University. Sorensen was tenured during the first three stages of the school’s establishment.
“I am immensely grateful to have met Wilson Sorensen last May to discuss the rich history and exciting future of this institution. I was so taken by his passion and vision, he was truly an extraordinary character,” said Pres. Matthew Holland, who became UVU’s sixth president in June. “ He saw needs arising before the rest of the community did. He then forged ahead with a lot of grit and enthusiasm and self-sacrifice to go put in place those things necessary to meet such needs. The result of all of that is this wonderful institution we now call UVU, which still retains Wilson Sorenson’s open, practical, and can-do spirit.”
“The community and UVU family owe much to Wilson Sorensen, who was a pioneer for this institution in the strictest sense of the word. Leaders of his caliber are rare, and we ought to celebrate all that Wilson Sorensen did for UVU and Utah Valley. He will be missed,” Holland said.
Many associates of UVU have voiced their deep admiration for the former president and recurrent expressions of gratitude have been made.
“Wilson Sorensen’s leadership as president of Utah Valley Technical College for 36 years — and continued involvement with the institution ever since — has been an important influence in the growth and development of Utah Valley University,” said Utah Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg, who served as UVU’s president from 2003 to 2008. “He established an institutional culture of meeting the economic and educational needs of the region — a legacy that UVU honors today.”
Sorensen was in attendance at the new library dedication as former UVSC presidents, civic leaders and library architects gave remarks on the transition from UVSC to UVU. Sorensen followed by declaring that he knew the time would come when the institution he helped build and preside over for so many years would become a university. Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concluded the ceremony with a dedicatory prayer as well as a few remarks on Sorenson.
“He has shown us the way to follow,” Monson said. He continued by relating the story of UVSC’s first groundbreaking in 1975 when he and other civic leaders were waiting for Sorensen to arrive so they could begin the ceremony. He described Sorensen’s arrival on horseback, as he simultaneously proceeded to tie his horse to the bleachers and grab a shovel for the groundbreaking. “I call him a pioneer,” Monson said.
A special viewing was held in Centre Stage in the Sorensen Student Center on Wednesday Aug. 5 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. to specifically accommodate UVU employees wishing to pay their respects without conflict to their daytime work schedule.
Funeral services were held on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 12 p.m. in the Edgemont South LDS Stake Center in Provo.