Retiring UW-Stout Chancellor reflects on his career

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Big changes are under way for UW-Stout in Menomonie.
Chancellor Charles Sorensen is retiring after more than quarter century leading the school.

After serving as a chancellor of UW-Stout since 1988 Sorensen says he has seen many changes under his watch.

He says all of them helped UW-Stout establish a national reputation.
“I'll miss the people, I'll miss the challenges,” said Sorensen.

Sorensen, the longest-serving leader in UW-Stout's 123-year history,
says the decision to leave education after 45 years wasn't an easy one.

“I'm at the age where you have to move over for younger people, move aside for younger generation, innovative people, energetic people,” he explained his decision to retire this year.

Those who know Sorensen like Associate Chancellor Jackie Wiessenburger say it's his energy and passion for education that helped Stout climb to new heights.

“He is an innovative thinker, he has forward thinking, he wants to try new things; he wants Stout to be on the cutting edge of technology,” she said.

Establishing the eStout or laptop program is what Sorensen considers a highlight of his career.

“I think we're one of those modern schools now in the upper Midwest when it comes to technology,” he explained.

“We're wired, we're wireless, each student has a laptop computer; we have very upscale specialized labs, for things like game design.”

Under Sorensen, UW-Stout became the designated Polytechnic University, which means it offers high-level engineering, science and math programs.

“We came from a school having 20 programs when I came in ‘88 to the school with now with 45 undergraduate programs, 20 graduate programs our first doctorate program, that's been a significant change,” said Sorensen.

The Chancellor says Stout's use of modern technology and its facility growth and renovation are what earned the university the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001.

“It’s been a great ride; I enjoyed this university, I've enjoyed public higher public education,” said Sorensen.

“I think that it's the future of our county to provide access to more and more students that want it (education), need it and can do it,” he added.

Sorensen plans to retire on August 15 of this year.
UW-System leaders hope to have a new chancellor selected by the end of May.

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