2014 Storyteller of the Year Legend Awardee

Paul Quinn College President


In 2007, Michael J. Sorrell fought his way into the presidency of Dallas, Texas’ now 140-year old historically black Paul Quinn College. Since that time Sorrell has transformed PQC, which sits on 146-acres in the low-income Highland Hills community, raising the college’s profile and building the Quinnite Nation. For his commitment to the WE over ME mantra, we salute him as a legendary storyteller of the HBCU experience and honor him as the 2013 Storyteller of the Year Legend awardee.

Michael J. Sorrell is the 34th President of Paul Quinn College and the reigning “HBCU Male President of the Year”. Under his leadership, PQC is experiencing one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of higher education. His vision is to transform Paul Quinn College into one of America’s great small colleges by focusing on servant leadership, entrepreneurship, and academic rigor.

Among the school’s numerous accomplishments during President Sorrell’s tenure have been: winning the “2011 HBCU of the Year” and the “2012 HBCU Student Government Association of the Year”; demolishing 15 abandoned campus buildings; partnering with PepsiCo to transform the unused football field into the two acre “WE over Me Farm”; achieving full-accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); attaining four consecutive unqualified audits for the first time in school history; creating a new admissions policy (and enrolling the top academic class in school history); establishing the Presidential Scholars Program; adopting a school-wide business casual dress code; securing the two largest single donor gifts in the history of the institution; earning six and seven-figure year-end budget surpluses in three of the last four years; and modernizing all institutional operations.

Michael received his J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University. While in law school, he was one of the founding members of the Journal of Gender Law & Policy and served as the Vice President of the Duke Bar Association. Michael was a recipient of the Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship, which funded his studies at both Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (as a graduate fellow) and Duke University. He graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Government, served as Secretary-Treasurer of his senior class, was a two-time captain of the men’s varsity basketball team, and graduated as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer.

The President is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Among the boards he serves on are Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Amegy Bank, Teach for America, the North Texas Public Broadcasting Company, Inc., bcWorkshop, and the Department of Education Policy and Leadership for the Simmons School of Education at SMU. He also has been recognized by the Root On-line Magazine as a member of the “Root 100” (a list of the top 100 emerging leaders in America) and by HBCU Digest as one of the five best HBCU Presidents from 2010 through 2012.

He has received the Excellence in Education Distinguished Alumni Award from his high school, St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois; the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from the Alumni Association of Duke University’s School of Law; and the TRACS Leadership Award. He has also been named the Educator of the Year by several different organizations and honored by the NAACP, Heart House, the State Fair Classic, the Dallas Furniture Bank, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dallas for his civic leadership. He is a past recipient of the Dallas Urban League’s Torch for Community Leadership and both the President’s and C.B. Bunkley Awards from J.L. Turner for his outstanding contributions to the Dallas legal community. Additionally, in 2002 the Dallas Business Journal named him one of Dallas’ Forty Under 40 and in 2011, the same periodical awarded him a Minority Business Leaders Award.

President Sorrell is married to the former Natalie Jenkins. Natalie is an alumna of Spelman College and received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They have one son, Michael Augustus.

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