Beloved educational technology professor and former dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education (COE) Christine Sorensen Irvine died on January 27, 2023 at the age of 64. Irvine served COE from 2007 until her death.
“Dr. Christine Sorensen Irvine was not only an exceptional colleague, but a valued friend,” said Learning Design and Technology (LTEC) Director Michael Menchaca. “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.”
Inspired to teach
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.”
Irvine served as the dean of the College of Education at two top-tier research universities and became 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.
Irvine served as dean of COE at UH 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 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.
Jaymi Urashima from the COE 2017 PhD cohort wrote on Irvine’s online memorial board, “Whenever I thought of Dr. Chris, the first word that came to mind was Superwoman. She was such a knowledgeable, hard-working, efficient and caring professor. She is impossible to replace and will be greatly missed. Thank you, Dr. Chris, for sharing your wisdom and time with all of us. May you rest in peace knowing you’ve positively impacted so many people.”
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.
“[She] had a brilliant mind, a stellar work ethic and the warmest heart,” wrote a student on the memorial board. “She deeply cared so much about her students and her work, and I will always be grateful for everything she has taught me over the past several years. She was a special person that I will miss very much.”
Irvine is survived by her daughter Kathryn and son-in-law Daniel; her grandchildren Jacob, Evelynn and Ava; her sons Michael and Andrew; and her step-children Chelsea, Colton and Justin.
To honor her dedication and contributions, the COE has established the Dr. Christine Sorensen Irvine Memorial Endowment Fund for LTEC doctoral students. For more information, contact Menchaca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A memorial service is scheduled on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 11 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/.