Former University of South Carolina president Andrew Sorensen died Sunday at age 72.

Sorensen served as president of USC from 2002 until 2008.

He was still energetic and active until the moment of his death, having ridden his bicycle Sunday morning.

He also was still active in education, working at Ohio State University as senior vice president for development, among other positions at the school.

Colleagues reached Sunday remembered him as a visionary who was always approachable. He usually wore a bow tie, rode his bicycle around campus talking to students and played trumpet in the pep band at college basketball games.

"I'm still trying to cope with it frankly," USC President Harris Pastides said Sunday. "He was very vigorous and happy until the very end, and that's the way I'll always remember him."

Pastides said Sorensen's wife told him he was still healthy and rode his bike Sunday morning.

One of Sorensen's biggest accomplishment at USC was working out land and zoning issues with the city of Columbia to develop the Innovista research campus.

"He was father of the Innovista vision," said Herbert Adams, who was chairman of the board of trustees under Sorensen. "He helped move the vision so we could move from a good regional university to an excellent international university."

"He was such a bridge builder to the town," said William Hubbard, a board member who was chairman of the search committee that recommended Sorensen to the board. "He really healed some town-gown issues. … It's a sad day, but he certainly lived a full and vital life in every way."

"He was approachable," said Charles Bierbauer, dean of the school of mass communications. "He was not ivy tower. He was on the ground, and you saw a lot of him. He rode his bicycle around campus. He was in touch. The students were eager to approach to him."

Ryan Holz, a 2006 graduate and student body vice president under Sorensen, recalled his signature bow ties.

"That tie spoke more than just a fashion statement," he said. "It said that he was his own man and he didn't have anybody else to impress. He was just going to be himself. He was going to get his job done and he was going to treat people with respect and dignity along the way. I saw him interact with cabinet secretaries of the United States government and interact with housekeeping or cafeteria workers, and he treated them both the same."

Before coming to USC, Sorensen was president at the University of Alabama, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Florida, executive director of the AIDS Institute at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.