Nancee Sorenson has a favorite quote from Winston Churchill that helps define her life: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
As a result, Sorenson has dedicated her life to education — starting as a student and working her way up to becoming the first female campus president at Hillsborough Community College in Tucson, Ariz. She credits Indiana State with helping instill that desire “to give” as an educator.
“ISU created in me passion and love for higher education. As a student I had the opportunity to be mentored by faculty and, as a staff member working at ISU while finishing my degree, I had the opportunity to work with and be mentored by university faculty and administrators,” she said. “I wanted to be in this exciting mix of learning, research and creating opportunities for students to succeed.”
After graduating from Terre Haute North High School in 1975, Sorenson had a long list of reasons why she wanted to attend Indiana State University, including being offered one of the first undergraduate scholarships in clinical psychology.
Plus, she said, “My Uncle John Kackley was a graduate of the College of Education in the late 50s. My father was on the construction crews that built several of the residential halls. My great grandfather and other relatives had attended ISU.”
A 1990 alumna of Indiana State University with a Master of Science degree in agency counseling, Sorenson started her career at Wabash Valley Region of Ivy Tech, first as a counselor and then several other positions for the regional chancellor.
She spent 22 years working her way up the ranks at Pima Community College. She was Pima’s first director of administration, dean of student development, director of enrollment services, registrar and vice president for student development. In January 2015, Sorenson was named president of Hillsborough Community College Brandon Campus in Tampa, Fla.
“The presidency is a special place. I say ‘place’ because it is more than an occupation. One lives in it and for it,” she said. “If I had to choose one thing that I like most, it is the ability to be at the forefront of creating opportunity to upward mobility for all citizens. Higher education, whether at the two-year level or higher, transforms lives.”
Although she is still getting settled in her new home, Sorenson is already active in Tampa organizations such as the chamber of commerce, Rotary, economic development groups and foundations.
“I have been very welcomed by the local community … The biggest change is not being around my kids and grand kids on a regular basis,” she said.
Son Eric is a percussion studies major at the University of Arizona. Daughter Sarah is in the food, beverage and hospitality business in Tucson, while son-in-law Adam is in the Army. The couple have two children — 4-year-old Carter and 2-year-old Addison.
To help showcase her former hometown, Sorenson and her uncle are planning to host an Indiana State University Tampa Area Alumni Event on Jan. 12. Plans are still in the works and the schedule hasn’t been finalized, Sorenson said.
“I could not be more proud of the history and current impact of Indiana State University in the lives of the students and in the community in which it resides,” she said. “Its town-and-gown relationship is the best, and its impact across the U.S. and internationally grows each year.”
A “huge fan” of Indiana State President Dan Bradley and wife, Cheri, Sorenson said “they truly care for the Terre Haute area and absolutely love, love, love the students and the university.”