Kelly Sorensen, Associate Dean of Academics
Kelly Sorensen misses teaching, but he does much of the same out of the classroom. As an associate dean, he helps students achieve their potential: scholarships, awards, Summer Fellows, the Celebration of Student Achievement (COSA) and PhillyX, as the pilot Philadelphia Experience is called.
This past year he helped develop the pilot Philadelphia Experience, which stemmed from the question of how to get students more engaged with the city. Ursinus has tried several transportation arrangements in the past. “We said, ‘Let’s just have them live there. What would it take?’ We asked and answered a lot of questions. Trustees and alumni stepped up and helped provide internships. One students has, for example, a rare undergraduate internship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.” Fifteen students how live near Drexel University and meet all over the city.
Sorensen oversaw Summer Fellows, in its 20th year, engaging 70 students, all of whom were subsidized by the college or through external grants. “While a lot of colleges offer summer research in science, what’s really rare is offering this opportunity to students in the humanities,” he points out.
COSA had great results. “We had more people participating and we held more sessions. But we also had new kinds of sessions: an evening dance performance; athletic team presentations. Ten years ago we had three students per hour reading papers. Now, we might have 10 students an hour doing a poetry slam.”
Sorensen, who holds the Class of 1954 Chair of Ethics and organizes the Richard T. Schellhase Essay Prize in Ethics, is far from his first career, computer science, but finds similarities. “In software development, in the college classroom, and actually everywhere, a lot happens in a room with people expressing and defending their views,” he says. That he adds, goes to the core of a liberal arts education.