James Sorensen

After more than 50 years at the Daniels College of Business—52 to be exact—James Sorensen, PhD, CPA, CGMA, will retire leaving a lasting legacy at the School of Accountancy that includes exceptional teaching, research and service. Nearly 100 people gathered May 7 in the Tuscan Ballroom in the Joy Burns Center to honor Sorensen.

Sorensen began his career at the University of Denver in 1965 as an assistant professor of accounting, and was promoted to associate professor in 1969. Since 1972, he has served as a professor, most recently teaching Not-for-Profit Accounting and Advanced Management Accounting in the School of Accountancy and Strategic Cost Management in the MBA and Executive MBA programs.

Students and colleagues alike hold Sorensen in high esteem. Wayne A. Barnes, CFO of the Anschutz Corporation, took Dr. Sorensen’s accounting course in 1976.

“I had a number of great accounting and business professors at DU but Dr. Sorensen clearly stood out as the best! His commitment to educating his students was obvious from the first day of class forward,” Barnes said. “Dr. Sorensen provided me with a sound background supporting accounting theory, which has served me well over my career.”

Peter Firmin worked with Sorensen from 1974 through 1984 and then again from 1994 through 2008.

“Jim served with dedication and distinction as a teaching professor and serious researcher, especially in the field of governmental accounting,” Firmin said. “During his long tenure in the School of Accountancy, he has made significant contributions to assure the School’s continuing stature as a first ranking School of Accountancy. He is a nationally recognized scholar and teacher.”

Sorensen has published more than 125 articles, books/chapters, technical reports and cases over the years. He has served as the editor of Decision Sciences and has sat on editorial boards for several prominent journals.

His remarkable career has been punctuated by numerous awards, including the following honors from the Daniels College of Business:

  • John J. Gilbert Endowed Professorship, School of Accountancy 2000 and 2011
  • MBA Core Diamond Award, 2000, 2001, and 2002
  • Evelyn and Jay G. Piccinati Endowed Professorship for Teaching Excellence, 2004
  • Scholarship of Teaching Award, 2012
  • Outstanding Service Award, 2014

Most recently, Sorensen received the Daniels College of Business Pedagogy and Learning Award in recognition of his contributions to the professional literature.

The University of Denver and the accounting industry has also awarded him the following honors:

  • Fellow of the Decision Sciences Institute, 1975
  • University Scholar/Teacher Award, University of Denver, 1981
  • Bulloch Award for Innovations in Management Accounting, American Accounting Association and Institute of Management Accountants, 2004
  • Brummet Distinguished Award for Educators, Institute of Management Accountants, 2010

Sorensen’s influence is multi-generational: He taught the father of Assistant Professor Kelsey Dworkis, and she now is Sorensen’s colleague in the School of Accounting.

“Here some 48 years after Dr. Sorensen taught my father accounting, I now have the honor and pleasure of serving on the same faculty as Dr. Sorensen,” Dworkis said. “His work ethic, enthusiasm and genuinely warm personality now inspire me in this incredible career just as they inspired my father in 1969. Thank you Jim for inspiring multiple generations of accountants! Your legacy will live on for many generations to come.”

Sorensen received his PhD from The Ohio State University in 1965, and his BSBA and MBA from the University of Denver in 1960 and 1962.