Struggling Paul Quinn College Reopens


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have survived segregation, wars, recessions and eventual integration, managing to remake themselves for the 21st century. But, not every school can continue providing the sort of education its students deserve, resulting in the shut down or merger of that institution.

college studentLast June, Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas learned that their accreditation had been revoked by its governing body, a move which kept the private African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) school from issuing degrees and receiving federal financial aid. In short, the school’s very existence was threatened until a federal judge issued a “stay” as the school sues the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accrediting body.

Fall Semester Begins

On Monday, Paul Quinn College started its fall semester, one month later than normal and with far fewer students in attendance. Last fall, 440 students attended the school, a number which dropped to 375 at the close of the spring semester this year.  This fall, 150 students showed up even as the college’s very survival remains at risk.

As the oldest HBCU in Texas, Paul Quinn College has educated generations of African American families who might otherwise not received instruction beyond high school. In 2007, current president Michael Sorrell took over, soon after SACS put the school under probation.

Mr. Sorrell acknowledged that the college had deficiencies it needed to overcome and began to address those problems immediately. Still, even though the college had reduced the number of noncompliance issues from 23 to 3, it wasn’t enough to avoid having SACS revoke accreditation.

Meadows Foundation Gift

The Texas Legislative Black Caucus has come alongside the college in a bid to help it raise $1.5 million. So far, one million dollars has been raised and, according to The Dallas Morning News, that amount includes a $500,000 gift from the Meadows Foundation which was received on the first day of class. The Meadows Foundation is a private philanthropic institution established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows to benefit the people of Texas.

Paul Quinn College has a number of obstacles to overcome including a severe student retention problem. Only 37% of freshmen students return for their sophomore year while just 16% of its students graduate within six years. To that end, President Sorrell has issued a credit/no-credit grading policy for freshmen students, designed to help them acclimate to school first before worrying about grades later.

As the college continues to do what it takes to survive, it is going ahead with its Homecoming Week plans (November 1-8, 2009) which will include a fun walk/run, alumni bash, basketball games, church services and much more.


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Categories: Campus News