Paul Quinn College’s new Urban College Model

February 20, 2015 § 3 Comments

Of all the problems with higher education, Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell doesn’t talk much about them. President Sorrell, better known as “Prez”, is more interested in changing the status quo than talking about what can’t be done. In short, Prez is a solution-seeker.Two years ago, Prez gave a Ted Talk on the skeleton of the idea. Earlier this week he announced that next fall PQC will be operating under the Urban College Model, a model that entails free open source textbooks, lower tuition and work experience with local companies. Only seven schools in the country enjoy this model. Also, Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, is working with the school on designing a course on entrepreneurship.

“We have listened to our students,” Prez promised a crowd of about 200 earlier this week. The cries, I suppose, amounted to a dislike for debt and a lack of jobs.

I’m a fan of cheaper textbooks. College textbooks are a racket, in my opinion. As a matter fact, my friend is using the same economics book I used in 12th grade. Yup, the infamous Ben Bernanke (this was before I even heard of Bernanke) authored Principles of Economics. Like a pawn shop, one purchases the textbook for an unreasonable amount, sells it to the school (or if you are smart, sell it to a student or online) and the school turns around and flips it for 4x as much to another broke and indebted college student.

I’m a fan of work-colleges. I’m a fan of work-school in general. Remember when Newt Gingrich proposed having grade school students work as janitors and other menial positions in their school? Yeah, I was for that.

Prez said on campus students will be required to work on or off-campus in order to receive that $5,000 decrease in tuition. Many times students graduate with no experience and receive training at their new jobs. I am against this model because I believe one should receive those skills during college. I do wish, however, curriculum changes are made to better suit your major. For example, as a legal studies major, college algebra is pretty useless to me. I assure you, even as a business man, I won’t be solving quadratic equations. And I can learn the compound interest formula elsewhere!

I’m a fan of Cuban and entrepreneurship. Often times I wear two piece suits and ball caps solely because of my admiration for Cuban. Shark-Tank is a cool show and South Dallas in particular and black people in general will benefit from embracing that type of culture. A big issue in South Dallas, particularly in the Highland Hills area, is the lack of grocery stores and banks. Calls to abandon the large, corporate retailers have been made but the tools to build one’s own store aren’t all there. Many people in the community, including Prez, are working to change that situation.

Whether or not Cuban will establish a Shark-Tank/angel investment type gameshow at Paul Quinn College, I was told by the Prez to not hold my breath. Actually he said, “Let’s wait on getting this started before we head in that direction.”

Along with the new model is the addition of several new degree programs such as Health and Wellness, Finance, Urban Studies, and Agriculture Management.

Lastly, I’m a firm believer of the “devil are in the details” so as the plan rolls out, more information will be made available and the actual implementation of the plan will prove its integrity.

One thing is for sure: this plan is much more honest and well-rounded than the so-called “free college” plan by President Obama. As one colleauge put it to me, “I like this model [better] vs free college.”

Prez for Pres?


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§ 3 Responses to Paul Quinn College’s new Urban College Model

  • Ejike Okpa says:

    Paul Quinn College [PQC] PQC successor to Bishop College [BC] is just like many HBCU, challenged by many factors and issues such that prescribed solutions often logical and practical seems unattainable.

    I remember when Dr. Lee Monroe was president of then Bishop College and I had meeting with him on some ideas to revamp the school and create revenue stream, he showed excitement but it died. When late Comer Cottrell; ProLine founder bought BC and enhanced the board of trustees with notables such as George W Bush, the school still could not garner traction to improve its derailing reputation.

    There seem to always be conflict and clash between traditional Baptist clergy that serve on the board and progressive minds that want to depart from dated thoughts and ways. Hard to break from old tradition, and among African-Americans, such tie to old ways may not be unconnected to why we catch the rear of everyone. It is a black DNA including cousins on the continent who refuse to depart from ways that hinder their drive for better outcome. Blood it seems does not lie when it comes to black folks no matter the geography of their abode.
    I applaud Mr. Sorrell, and I see some improvements. However, enrollment is lagging, accreditation remains perennial issue hard to overcome. And the fact, that most HBCU do not have endowment or have ability to generate revenue from outside sources, its financial wellbeing and reputation are tough to shake off.

    It is amazing black college athletes are reason many NCAA top ranking schools do well, but hardly are black athletes supportive of HBCU athletic program nor NCAA sympathetic and dole out some money to these college. It begs the question, why not?

    Money is necessary to run great schools and attract faculty, without that no matter the drive and wish, a school without runs on dry air. Until black folks, friends and families who attended these colleges come back in aggressive and formidable manner to help the school survive and strive financially, nothing may seem to rescue the dying reputation of these great institutions that made it possible for many to get college education.

    Disappointingly, black folks do not know or want to give back. According to a survey on who gives back to colleges, black folks rank well below the bottom. Many wealthy black folks are not known to raise money for black institutions or agree to support its cause.

    There is still this sense, others owe us our survival therefore, they ought to give us something while we fold hands sitting on the fence, and watch the world go by us. A beggar has no choice, am afraid.

    Mark Cuban and Trammell Crow have stepped up to do something for PQC, great. Given that north Texas is known to have many rich and wealthy?? African-Americans, I wonder why a few of these black folks have not rallied to raise money for PQC, in a matching fund drive? I await to be informed if my views are wrong. But I doubt it.

    • Mr. Bab says:

      Clergy, like all institutions, resist change indeed!

      Id like to see this survey but it is no surprise. HBCU receieve a bad rap, black athletes love to enrich other schools and blacks in general have an issue following group economics.

      As of 2014 according to Prez ted talk, QC did have a endowment, albeit small. HBCU Money states PQC needed one of $83 million. There is plenty space for enrollment; we currently sit at just under 300 students last time I checked.

      I love Prez approach of self sufficiency. I think it’s the idea all should have, especially a under served and ignored group of people.

      Thanks for commenting and share!

      • Ejike Okpa says:

        It is what it is. Economics is an exercise in numbers. Recognize how to play the number game and leverage that, and see one’s situation improve. If the annual consumption of black folks in US is in excess of $1t, and yet black folks own less than 2% of US commercial enterprises and hardly financial institutions worth $1b, and less than 4% of blacks that teach in colleges and universities are tenured, there is need to redirect and rethink the approach. What are we teaching folks such that they only want to go get a job and nice corporate title? Come to think of it, more blacks hold PhDs than most other ethnic groups. It makes one wonder. If equal opportunity accorded and afforded as a result of education is the case, how come there is disappointingly, different outcome? Education ought to prompt and prepare one to look inward for better outcome and heavy lifting, and not for the glamor of hositing and holding paper qualifications. No need to split hair on obvious facts. What needs to happen is redirect and rethink of how and why we give others our resources only to settle for peanuts. No other ethnic group does that. Self preservation is an undisputed first order of business. Master and embrace that and see a sea of positive change happen.

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