Hamline News

October 16, 2012

Q&A with Dr. Nancy Sorenson, Dean of the School of Education

Nancy Sorenson Main

Dr. Nancy Sorenson assumed the role of dean of the School of Education in July of 2012. Now that she has had some time to settle into her new position, she took the opportunity to share more about her impressive background and her goals for the future.

What other positions have you held in your career in academia?


I have been a dean for about 20 years at various places, including St. Mary’s College of California for 10 years, dean of education at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, and four years as associate dean and interim dean at the University of La Crosse in Wisconsin.

What has shaped your belief that education is so critical?

Education was very valuable to me, and I was very motivated to seek higher education. Along the way people guided me into specific activities that led me along. When I was in my master's program a professor suggested that I pursue a doctoral degree. So I did that and began a career as a faculty member. Later, I was encouraged to step into a position as an interim dean which led me into administrative work.

What are your hopes and goals for the School of Education in the coming years?

There is a great deal of potential here. Hamline is home to a very exciting and talented group of people. Going forward, I want to make sure that what we accomplish is consonant with the needs of the community. Part of the job of a school of education is making sure faculty, staff, and administrators know what is going on both in the K-12 and higher education sectors so that we aren’t on a path that takes us away from what people need. We need to be very alert to what is going on around us to make certain that what we do is targeted to real needs. That’s the way we will grow and prosper and put the talent we have to work.

Why did you accept a leadership role at Hamline?

I’ve been interested in Hamline for quite some time. I am from Minnesota originally, though I haven’t lived here for a long time. I have monitored what has been happening in the field of education in the state and at Hamline. Part of the draw was being back in Minnesota, but even more it is Hamline’s reputation and the quality of the faculty and programs. I like a place that has some excitement and energy about it, and I certainly feel that here.

What do you see as the strength of Hamline University’s School of Education?

One major strength is the talent of the faculty. And, I like that fact that Hamline is in an urban setting which really makes for more interesting and diverse classrooms. I am also very impressed with the university’s new provost, Dr. Eric Jensen. I think that he will be a real asset to the institution. The institutional leadership seems to be poised to do some amazing things.

How do you see technology changing education?

As teachers and learners we certainly have access to resources far beyond anything that was available to us in the past. For teachers, one key to figuring out how to integrate technology effectively may be getting input from younger generations. Just having access to information is so enriching, and that stops well short of the potential of using technology such as simulation and gaming in the classroom. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of the enhancements that technology can and will provide.

What do you think are some unique traits of Hamline University?

The variety of programming makes it an interesting place to work. That variety opens up possibilities that might not exist with a simpler array of programs. People here seem to be quite willing to explore new options. That isn’t always the case at different institutions. I find that willingness to explore exciting.

Has Hamline University been what you expected it to be?

Yes. It’s interesting because I have been dean at very different places and some people would think of that as doing the same thing over and over again. But you discover that though places look the same, they operate very differently. A new deanship is not exactly like starting over, but you have to learn a lot. On one hand, it is what I expected, but there are these little surprises along the way.