University News

Sorenson Recognized Nationally for Contributions to Statewide Arts Education

Published: July 11, 2008 | Category: Academics

Southern Utah University would like to congratulate one of its modern-day founders, Beverley Taylor Sorenson, upon her receipt of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) public service award.

According to a press release from the NGA, Sorenson is one of just eight recipients nationwide for this year’s Distinguished Service to State Government Award, and is one of only two recipients to be recognized for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

“The Awards for Distinguished Service to the Arts,” states the NGA, “are given in two areas: artistic production and arts support.” Sorenson is being honored this July 13 for her staunch support of the arts and arts education.

The NGA states the purpose of this award is to recognize “outstanding service to the arts, focusing on contributions that improve the quality of life and bring distinction to a state.”

Considering Sorenson’s longtime support of education and arts initiatives on the Southern Utah University campus, resulting in the naming of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education and Human Development, University officials affirm Sorenson’s impact to-date has been priceless.

States SUU President Michael T. Benson, “Beverley Taylor Sorenson’s influence on SUU’s campus is indelible and we will always be grateful to the entire Sorenson family for their interest and support. And yet even that pales in comparison to Beverley’s efforts statewide which are now being recognized. Beverley’s work with countless children and educators has forever changed arts education in Utah and has impacted best practices and policy across the nation.”

The NGA Awards Committee focused its recognition of Sorenson on her Art Works for Kids program that has been running for the past 13 years. With over $45 million of her own family’s money invested, countless hours of community service and more than 80,000 children served, NGA claims “Sorenson’s innovative program has become a model for elementary school art education.”

According to the NGA, “Since 1995 Art Works has provided grants for teaching artists in schools around Utah.” That program expanded in 2005, when Sorenson’s “What Works” program was launched to encourage collaboration between institutions of higher education to better provide the training future teachers need to successfully bring arts into the classroom.”

One of Sorenson’s closest SUU colleagues, and current chair-holder of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair in Elementary Arts Education Carrie Lynn Trenholm, aptly describes Beverley’s far-reaching influence, “Beverley has spent over $20 million of her own money in the last 12 years to place arts specialists in schools. It is her absolute passion to see that every child in Utah receives an education that includes music, dance, theatre and visual arts. No one else has made a greater contribution to arts education than Beverley; she has certainly earned this award.”

Trenholm continues, “The best thing about Beverley is that with each success, she seems to gain more momentum and energy to keep moving closer to her goal.”

At SUU those goals have had a resounding impact on the College of Education’s ability to prepare future arts educators. Some of Sorenson’s most notable contributions include, 42 professional development workshops for over 347 elementary school teachers; the continuation of the national Arts Bridge program, which places SUU’s Performing and Visual Arts students in Iron County classrooms as mentors about the arts; and the University’s first endowed chair position in Elementary Arts Education.

Trenholm echoes the sentiment of the entire University in saying, “In light of the wonderful opportunities that Beverley Sorenson has given all of Utah, it is an honor to be a part of her dream to enrich the lives and improve the minds of children through quality arts education.”

Southern Utah University is happy to see the success of a longtime friend recognized at long last.

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