Before being appointed dean and professor of management science (now business information technology) at Virginia Tech in July 1982, Sorensen led Appalachian State University’s business school for nine years; thus, he will have been a dean for 40 years.
Under his leadership, the Pamplin College expanded student enrollments and academic programs; developed new international, leadership, ethics, and diversity programs; created new advising and career services for students and outreach services for businesses; and completed two major fundraising campaigns that exceeded their goals.
Sorensen’s first decade at Virginia Tech was highlighted by fundraising success — in particular, a landmark $10 million gift from the Robert B. Pamplin family that resulted in the renaming of the college in 1986 — and building construction and renovation. An addition to Pamplin Hall opened in the fall of 1987; renovations to the original building were completed in the fall of 1988. Seeking a formal means of guidance from alumni and friends, Sorensen established the Pamplin Advisory Council, a group that has since grown to 75 members.
His second decade at Pamplin saw the development or expansion of outreach services to businesses. The college made a formal commitment to diversity, expanded its international programs to give more students the opportunity for experience abroad, and overhauled its MBA program. In partnership with other colleges on campus, Pamplin launched a master’s degree in information technology.
In his third decade, Sorensen oversaw the development of several initiatives: an executive MBA program in 2004, a business diversity center and minor for undergraduates in 2006, and, in 2008, a post-doctoral bridge-to-business program that was among the first such programs approved by AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) International, the accrediting organization for business schools worldwide.
Sorensen has not only led the college’s successful fundraising efforts through the years — more than $85 million was raised during the last campaign — but has been a generous donor, with more than $210,000 contributed toward scholarships and fellowships to benefit Pamplin students and faculty. On top of his administrative duties, he has taught the Introduction to Business course every year.
Virginia Tech’s nationally ranked Pamplin College of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting and information systems, business information technology, economics, finance, hospitality and tourism management, management, and marketing. Pamplin emphasizes technology and analysis that improve business, entrepreneurship that leads to innovation and innovative companies, international opportunities for learning and research, and an inclusive, collaborative community. It is named in honor of two alumni: the late Robert B. Pamplin, retired chairman of Georgia-Pacific, and businessman, author, and philanthropist Robert B. Pamplin Jr.