Dr. Christine Sorensen Irvine passed away on January 27, 2023 at the age of 64. A beloved Learning Design and Technology professor and former Dean of the UH Mānoa College of Education (COE), Irvine was with the COE from 2007 until her untimely death.
Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Irvine grew up in the South as her family moved to Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and finally Texas where she attended Lufkin High School. It was during her junior year that she discovered the impact of a dedicated teacher, which is reflected in her own work and legacy as a professor.
“The ambidextrous and rebellious Christine decided to write her book reports on banned books in mirror script (backwards),” recounted her sister Emery Lauten Meadows. “Her English teacher, Mr. Williams, encouraged her to keep writing like that, even though he had to hold her reports up to a mirror to read them. Christine never forgot that lesson on how to be a good teacher.”
That same year, Irvine scored a nearly perfect score on the SAT test, resulting in full scholarship offers to multiple universities when she was just 16 years old. She would go on to serve as the Dean of the College of Education at two top-tier research universities and become a tenured professor – all without ever having received a high school diploma. She did, however, earn a BA in Speech Communication from the University of Houston and an MS in Professional Studies in Education and PhD in Professional Studies in Higher Education from Iowa State University.
With interests extending beyond academics, Irvine worked in radio as a news announcer and on-air personality from the age of 15 at radio and television stations. By the time she was 17, she was elected to serve on the City Council of Dakota City, Iowa. Later, after getting married and having her first two children, she would return to radio as a news director, winning an Iowa state award for public service programming on mental health.
In 1991, Irvine’s career in higher education began when she became a research associate and program coordinator for the Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE) at Iowa State University while also working as a private consultant in education research and evaluation. She would become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Northern Illinois University before serving as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, quickly followed by her tenure as Dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Education (2001–2006).
Irvine served as Dean of the College of Education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa from 2007 until 2012 when she made the difficult decision to step down in order to focus on her health and that of her terminally-ill mother. Optimistically returning to the classroom, she taught in the collegeʻs Department of Learning Design and Technology (LTEC) where she helped found the doctoral program. She graduated 13 doctoral students as dissertation chair and was advising more than 30 doctoral students as a dissertation committee member at the time of her death.
Throughout her career, Irivine presented nationally and internationally; served as director and co-director of numerous contract and grant programs; was a lead grant-writing evaluator; authored and co-authored a multitude of books, chapters, journal articles, and funded evaluation reports; belonged to many professional organizations; and served on dozens of state-level boards and advisory committees.
“Christine enjoyed music, dancing, singing, and the ocean,” said Meadows. “She could often be found at the beach, dancing to her favorite bands, or singing on stage with a karaoke mic in her hand. She delighted in traveling, learning about other cultures, and trying new things. Most of all, she loved to have fun, tell stories, and make people laugh. Her joie de vivre was contagious. If there is one sentence to sum up her life, it is this: ʻShe did everything from the heart.ʻ”
Irvine is survived by her daughter Kathryn (Sorensen) Veyna and son-in-law Daniel Veyna; her grandson Jacob Veyna and granddaughters Evelynn Veyna and Ava Veyna ; her sons Michael and Andrew Sorensen; her step-daughter Chelsea Irvine-PascuaI; and her stepsons Colton and Justin Irvine.
To honor her dedication and contributions, the COE has established the Dr. Christine Sorensen Irvine Memorial Endowment Fund for Doctoral Students in the Department of Learning Design and Technology. Please contact Dr. Mike Menchaca, email@example.com, for more information. A memorial service is scheduled on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Honolulu (flowers may be sent there). The service will also be webcast at tmbchawaii.org/live-stream/ or facebook.com/tmbchawaii/.
From LTEC Director Michael Menchaca
“Dr. Christine Sorensen Irvine was not only an exceptional colleague, but a valued friend. In just the short week since she passed, I am realizing every day how much I relied on her. Since she joined our department in 2012, I’ve sent her 2,772 email messages, that’s about a message every work day. I can’t remember ever getting a response longer than a couple of days. Those numbers don’t even include how many times we talked on the phone, via Zoom, or in person. She made a difference every day. Many, many doctoral students wanted her as chair and she never said no. She provided exceptional mentoring, and she was known for her tough yet fair and insightful feedback. She may have told you what was wrong, but she also told you how to fix it. She brought out the absolute best in all her students and I know they will miss her. I will miss her, too.”
From former TDP Director Paul McKimmy (in a speech given at the 2012 COE Congress Meeting)
“Chris has several abilities that make her a highly effective executive. First, I don’t think she requires sleep. She worked tirelessly and many, many long hours in pursuit of the college’s goals over the last five years. Second, her recall is amazing. She can cite chapter and verse on NCATE, WASC, UHPA, DOE, and Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes like no one else I know. Using her superhuman powers, Chris lead the college successfully through NCATE and WASC accreditation, which was no simple feat. She was at the helm as the college dealt with a ridiculous number of legal challenges. She has established new and positive relationships with our community college partners, and has been extraodinarily supportive of expansion and improvement in technology integration throughout the college operations and instruction.”
Read more tributes on the LTEC memory board.