Wilson Sorenson, second president of UVU, passes away at 92

[note of print publication to readers of this story — due to publication deadlines, the Wilson Sorenson announcement and tribute will be featured in the first issue of the fall semester, on stands Aug. 24]

Wilson Sorenson, former president of UVU, has passed away at 92, a few days before his 93rd birthday. Sorensen was UVU’s second president and its longest-tenured, at 36 years.

Sorensen’s son, Kent, was by his side when he passed at approximately 10:30 p.m.

Sorenson a true UVU pioneer, was able to witness each phase of the school’s transitions: Central Utah Vocational School, Utah Trade Technical Institute, Utah Technical College, Utah Valley Community College, Utah Valley State College, and now Utah Valley University. During Sorensen’s tenure, the institution was known as Central Utah Vocational School, Utah Trade Technical Institute and Utah Technical College.

“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,” said Pres. Matthew Holland, who became UVU’s sixth president in June. “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.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Hitch, whose interim presidency spanned August 2008 to June this year said,”The ‘can do’ attitude that permeates UVU began with Wilson Sorensen. Millions of students have and will benefit from a higher education experience because of Wilson Sorensen’s lifetime dedication to teaching and learning.”

Utah Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg, who served as UVU’s president from 2003 to 2008, said, “Wilson Sorenson’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,” Sederburg said. “He established an institutional culture of meeting the economic and educational needs of the region – a legacy that UVU honors today.”

Sorenson, 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. Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concluded the ceremony with a dedicatory prayer, and gave a few remarks on Sorenson.

At the Library dedication, Sorenson said that he knew the time would come when the institution he helped build and preside over for so many years would become a university.

“He has shown us the way to follow,” Monson said of Sorenson, who presided over UVSC for 36 years. Monson frequently relates a story of UVSC’s first groundbreaking in 1975, where he and other civic leaders were waiting for Sorenson to begin the ceremony. President Sorenson then rode up to the ceremony on a horse, tied it off to the bleachers, and grabbed a shovel for the groundbreaking. “I call him a pioneer,” added Monson.

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