Paul Quinn President Gains National Reputation

Michael Sorrell has been credited with reviving a near-dead Paul Quinn College, and inspiring its students

Work College

Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, has been getting a lot of national attention lately, not only for reviving the 450-student historically black institution in south Dallas, but for Paul Quinn’s work program.

That program has all Paul Quinn students hold jobs on or off campus to help defray the cost of their eductions at the school. Washington Monthly recently published a long profile of Sorrell, detailing how the one-time college basketball star and lawyer found his way to the helm of Paul Quinn College.

The profile focuses as much on how Sorrell inspires students to succeed, as it does on his finding innovative ways to keep Paul Quinn financially viable. Here’s a sampling:

The stunning turnaround of Paul Quinn has made Sorrell into a mini-celebrity. He’s been interviewed on HBO, spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and participated in countless higher education panels. But what he is increasingly getting attention for is the work program, which he first rolled out in 2015. All students are required to work at least eight hours a week, first on campus for the college, then off campus for participating employers. Twenty-four hundred dollars of students’ wages per year go to offsetting their tuition, the rest goes into their pockets. This has allowed Paul Quinn to slash its total cost of attendance from $23,800 to $14,275 a year. Sorrell’s goal is to get students into the job market with less than $10,000 in debt; the average student takes on only $2,300 in loans a year after Pell Grants and other subsidies along with work tuition credits.

Read the full profile here.

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