Michael Sorrell, Ed.D.

President of Paul Quinn College

The HBCU Leader Creating a Revolutionary New Model for Urban, Career-Based Learning

Michael’s Story

Michael J. Sorrell is the 34th President of Paul Quinn College. Under his leadership, the school has become one of the most innovative small colleges in America and is rapidly becoming a model for urban higher education by focusing on academic rigor, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship.

Among the school’s numerous accomplishments during President Sorrell’s nine-year tenure have been: winning the HBCU of the Year, the HBCU Student Government Association of the Year, and the HBCU Business Program of the Year awards; being recognized as a member of the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll; creating the New Urban College Model; demolishing 15 abandoned campus buildings; partnering with PepsiCo to transform the football field into the “WE over Me Farm”; achieving full-accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); rewriting all institutional fundraising records (including the most seven-figure gifts in school history); and restructuring the curriculum.

Michael received his J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and his Ed.D. at the University of Pennsylvania (where his dissertation defense was awarded “with Distinction”). 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.

President Sorrell is the only two-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year Award (2016 and 2012) in history. He was recently named the third most influential HBCU President in America and the Washington Monthly Magazine identified him as one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents.  Michael was the 2016 recipient of both the Dallas Bar Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award and the Father of the Year Award for the city of Dallas. In addition to being a member of the “Root 100” (a list of the top 100 emerging leaders in America) by the Root Online Magazine, Michael has received: the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education; the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law Alumni Association; a Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois; the Luminary Award from SMU; and the TRACS Leadership Award.  The Dallas Historical Society honored Michael for Excellence in Educational Administration and the NAACP, Heart House, the Dallas Furniture Bank, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dallas have also recognized him 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.

Among the entities on which President Sorrell serves as a trustee or director are Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, the College Board, the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania, Amegy Bank, Teach for America, the Dallas Regional Chamber, Earth Day Texas, the SMU Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and the SMU Department of Education Policy and Leadership for the Simmons School of Education at SMU.

The Washington Monthly recently named President Sorrell one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents. Additionally, he has been awarded the 2016 HBCU Male President of the Year by HBCU Digest, 2016 recipient of both the Dallas Bar Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award and the Father of the Year Award for the city of Dallas. In addition to being named HBCU Male President of the Year by HBCU Digest and a member of the “Root 100” (a list of the top 100 emerging leaders in America) by the Root Online Magazine, Michael has received: the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education; the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law Alumni Association; the Excellence in Education Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois; the Luminary Award from SMU; and the TRACS Leadership Award.  The Dallas Historical Society honored Michael for Excellence in Educational Administration and the NAACP, Heart House, the Dallas Furniture Bank, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dallas have also recognized him 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.

Michael is a sought-after writer and speaker (among the places that regularly feature his editorials are the Dallas Morning News and the Huffington Post). Additionally, his TEDx talk on the New Urban College Model is critically acclaimed.

Michael is a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

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 two children, Michael Augustus and Sage Louise-Sinclair.