Struggling to remain viable since losing its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation this summer, Paul Quinn College yesterday announced a major fund-raising milestone. The historic black college has raised more than $1 million since July, when the Texas Legislative Black Caucus rallied behind the foundering 137-year-old institution. School officials, who this week welcomed a mere 150 students, say that's the most Paul Quinn has collected in a decade.
"Our goal was $1 million, and as of today we've exceeded that mark," state Rep. Sylvester Turner said at a press conference packed with teachers, administrators, students and local politicians. That sum came from individuals, foundations and corporations such as HEB. The Meadows Foundation was the largest donor: When foundation trustee and director Linda Evans presented the school with a check for $500,000, most of the people sitting in the hall rose and gave thunderous applause. "We really believe in you," Evans told the crowd, "And we believe you're going to move forward stronger than ever before."
"We were in the fight of our lives at Paul Quinn," said state Rep. Helen Giddings, "and a foundation stepped up and said, 'We won't let you quit.'"
The school's accreditation status remains in limbo: An injunction from the federal district court in Atlanta prevented the school from being stripped of its accreditation, so it's on probation pending the outcome of its case against the SACS. But President Michael Sorrell took heart in yesterday's accomplishment.
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"The Meadows Foundation has given us 500,000 reminders that we absolutely do not walk alone," he said. "All we ask is to be judged for who we are now, not by the past."