The Ohio State community experienced its second sudden death in a week when Senior Vice President for University Development Andrew A. Sorensen died Sunday at the age of 72.
Sorensen, who also served as president of The Ohio State University Foundation and as special assistant to the president of advancement, was “one of the most distinguished leaders in higher education,” President E. Gordon Gee said in a statement on OSU’s website.
“Andy (Sorensen) and I have known each other for 30 years,” Gee told The Lantern Sunday. “He made a real difference.”
Both a statement on OSU’s website and an obituary on Schoedinger Funeral Home’s website referred to Sorensen’s death as sudden. At press time, the cause of death was unknown.
Sorensen came to OSU in September and told The Lantern in October that he wanted to improve the “efficiency and effectiveness of university administration,” although he said he looked at himself as more of a “coach and cheerleader” than an actual boss. Sorensen said he was encouraged by OSU’s “can-do spirit,” and was hopeful that he’d be able to interact with the students.
Before Sorensen came to OSU, he was president at the University of South Carolina from 2002–2008. From 1996–2002, he served as president of the University of Alabama. In 1990 he began as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Florida. In 1986 he joined Johns Hopkins University as the executive director of the AIDS Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. His career at universities began in 1983 when he became the dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Like Gee, Sorensen was known as a more charismatic president, according to an article Sunday on South Carolina’s The State website, which said he became known for “his colorful, energetic, personal style—symbolized by his trombone-playing, bow ties and penchant for riding a bicycle around (the University of South Carolina) campus.”
University of South Carolina’s president Harris Pastides released a statement Sunday, calling Sorensen’s death “a deeply personal loss” to him, his wife Patricia and the university.
“He was a gifted professor, an accomplished administrator and ebullient public servant who brought intellect, judgment, passion and wit to his every calling,” Pastides said. “How fortunate we are to have had this wonderful man in our lives.”
The university lost another one of its members Thursday when 23-year-old engineering student Ryan Williams died after his motorcycle collided into another car at the intersection of Olentangy River Road and the state route 315 southbound access ramps. The cause of that accident is still under investigation.
Sorensen is survived by his wife of 42 years, Donna, their two sons, Aaron and Benjamin, and a grandson, Art, according to a university press release.
Broad Street Presbyterian Church will host a public service for Sorensen at 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Schoedinger funeral home website. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made in Sorensen’s name to OSU.
Justin Conley contributed to this story.