School navigation

The Source

Remembering former registrar Jill Austin

August 24, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Former registrar, Jill Austin, died of cancer on July 17, 2015, her service was held on July 22.

A native Portlander, Jill graduated from James Madison High School, then attended Lake Forest College in Illinois where she earned her B.A. with a major in American civilization in 1968. After graduation, she taught school for a year in Illinois before returning to Portland and applying for work at Lewis & Clark. She joined the staff in 1969 as a clerk and was quickly promoted. She served eleven years (1970-81) as assistant registrar, nine years (1981-90) as associate registrar, and then became registrar when her mentor and supervisor Robert Wilkin retired. Jill left the college in 1991.

Jill was a highly respected and much loved member of the campus community. Jill combined well-honed organizational skills and a talent for detail with an outstanding ability to work constructively with others. She was known and appreciated for her thoughtful, intelligent, and generous spirit. 

Anne Price, former senior associate dean of admissions and later the registrar, offers this remembrance, “Jill was such an important part of my professional upbringing in the late 1970s and 1980s. She was my professional big sister, girlfriend, mentor, confederate, confidante, and a great friend. Everyone knew Jill’s laugh, and loved it! If they didn’t love it, they clearly didn’t enjoy life in general on a day-to-day basis! But no one ever interpreted that laughter as any lack of seriousness about her job. Jill was a consummate professional—caring equally for faculty policy, an individual student’s concerns, and administrative procedures. And above all else, Jill treated everyone fairly. She was not intimidated in the least by self-interested faculty, staff, or students. She taught me so much!”

As former Dean of the Faculty and Provost John Brown succinctly put it, “as a professional, Jill was a perfectionist; as a friend, she was a hoot.” 

Jill is survived by her husband, Dick Sorenson, who also worked at Lewis & Clark for many years and served as vice president for administration, by their three children, and their families. For a beautiful account of Jill’s personal life, please consult her obituary, which appeared in the Oregonian. 

Reflecting on Jill’s significance for the campus community, Emily Decker ’85, senior associate director of alumni and parent programs, wrote, “Both Jill and Dick touched the lives of many in the Lewis & Clark community. They were respected colleagues and dear friends. I know I’m not alone in saying that their impact on my life has been profound, and it was truly touching to see how many former Lewis & Clark faculty, staff, and students gathered to celebrate her life on July 22.”



Jane Atkinson

Vice President and Provost