Quinnites & Friends of the Quinnite Nation:
I pray that you are somewhere safe and in the company of people whom you love and who love you.
As 2020 comes to a close, I am reminded of all that we have experienced during the past 12 months. The fact that this year has been difficult is well-documented. Far too many of us have lived 2020 grappling with the fear, anxiety, and loss that COVID-19 brought into our worlds. Others among us continued to grapple with the reality of what race means in this country. Still more people suffered silently struggling to meet their everyday needs while living in the shadows of the global pandemic and national racial reckoning.
At Paul Quinn College, we were not immune to the ravages of 2020. However, as is our way, we decided to use 2020 as a season not for mourning but rather for sowing seeds in the service of others. As a result of this philosophy, the Quinnite Nation stands at the eve of the new year prepared to be stronger and more impactful than ever before. We are thankful for partners, students, faculty/staff, Board of Trustees, and alumni who believe in, and are committed to, our vision. If you would like to invest in our future, we invite you to do so by visiting our website. In the interim, please allow me to share with you a small fraction of what we have accomplished in 2020:
The Top Five Accomplishments of the Quinnite Nation in 2020
WE built new stuff. Just because our students have taken their classes online and our staff has worked remotely for the last nine months does not mean #nationbuilding ceased. When our campus re-opens for a return to regular student life in the fall of 2021, things will look very different. In addition to the completion of the brand new Trammell S. Crow Living & Learning Center and our new Health & Wellness facility (the first new buildings in 40 years on the campus), Paul Quinn College will also be home to a KIPP high school and a Dallas Independent School District International Baccalaureate Academy. Both schools will be located in separate remodeled facilities on the campus.
WE continued raising our graduation rates. Our graduation rate when I arrived almost 14 years ago was less than three percent. Since that time, we have made improving our performance in this area a focal point of our existence. I am proud to share that our fall 2016 cohort is on pace to reach a 40% graduation rate (continuing our upward trend in this area over the last five years). We are still a long way from our graduation rate goal (90%). However, it is undeniable that improving one’s graduation rate by more than 35% is an achievement worthy of mention in any year.
We kept fighting for others. As you know, the Quinnite Nation has a long history of taking up the causes of the communities we serve. This commitment is rooted in our African Methodist Episcopal Church DNA. Here are two examples of our work in 2020:
- Safe for our City: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has operated a free COVID-19 test site since early this summer. Thanks to the support of the Lyda Hill Philanthropies, City of Dallas, the AME Church, and many others, thousands of North Texans were able to tested for the virus and receive food from our food drive.
- Shingle Mountain. Our students and faculty took up the cause of Marsha Jackson and her community. The results have been impressive:
WE made sure that WE over Me still matters. When thousands of HBCU students were denied their commencement moment by COVID-19, the Quinnite Nation went into full “WE over Me” mode. In May, we worked with JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways, the NBA, Hennessy, Essence, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, NAFEO, UNCF, and so many others to bring the HBCU National Commencement Celebration to life. This event served as a celebration for over 75,000 HBCU graduates and even featured a commencement address from President Barack Obama. To date, it has been viewed over 2,000,000 times.
We also engaged in a national conversation on Race, Class, & Higher Education with the Chronicle of Higher Education. Since June, I have had the pleasure of co-hosting this conversation with my new friends Sara Lipka, Sarah Brown, and Scott Carlson and a host of influencers in and around education. If you missed the series, you can catch up here. It is truly special.
WE made new friends. Paul Quinn is always open to innovation and partnerships in areas that will better prepare our students for the future. One such example of this philosophy is our new relationship with the Minerva Project. This fall our two institutions announced an Urban Scholars Program. You can read about it here. In addition to the Minerva Project partnership, Paul Quinn also became the first HBCU to join the Guild Education marketplace. By forming an alliance with Guild, we now have the ability to speak to the needs of the adult learner population at many of America’s most-recognized companies.
We will never pretend that COVID-19 is a blessing. It is not and never will be. However, as people of faith, we know that one of our responsiblities is to find pathways through our seasons of struggle. At Paul Quinn College, we have known struggle and we know the single most important ingredient to persevering is the will to just keep going. That is our promise to you – we will always keep going.
We hope that 2021 proves to be a blessing for you and your family. We pray that you will find the strength to keep going. Finally, we hope that you will continue to support our dream of a Quinnite Nation (www.pqc.edu/invest).
With love, respect, and gratitude,
President Michael J. Sorrell, Ed.D.
PS-Here are some additional articles from 2020: