Turns out, Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell was available to talk to us today, following the news that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools refused to reinstate the the 137-year-old institution's accreditation. Not surprisingly, Sorrell was defiant in the wake of the decision: "When we went down this path, we knew that this was a possibility," Sorrell says, referring to a possible date in federal court, should it come to that. "We have prepared for it."
Paul Quinn's lawyer, Bill Brewer, still hasn't returned our calls, but he's said in recent days he intends to fight the SACS's decision all the way up the judicial food chain. The letter Sorrell received from the appeals board follows in full after the jump. It's a missive with which the president of the college completely disagrees.
"We feel as if we met the standards and that we fully intend to pursue every option we have available to us," says Sorrell. He adds that Paul Quinn has submitted applications to other accrediting institutions; the college has also applied for a "certificate of authority" from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which would allow the college to distribute degrees regardless of accreditation status. That decision is expected in September.
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In the meantime, Sorrell has told students that the college is still open and that it will be an accredited institution again.
"We have educated our students all the way along in the process," he says. "We have told them this is a possibility [and] here's what's going to happen if this possibility occurs. ... There is no doomsday scenario. We are open for business. We're going to be open for business in the fall. Things will work themselves out."
Sorrell hinted at the possibility of alternative funding, perhaps from private donations, if students can't apply for federal funding. Paul Quinn begins classes a month late this year on October 5.
"This is a school that believes in taking excellent care of their students. It's a small college environment and its one where you are not a number but a person. And in the grand scheme of your college education, this is truly going to be a blip." Despite his assurances, some students are still unsure about attending in the fall. "The number of students who would be at this point in the year saying, 'We're absolutely coming,' we aren't seeing as many of those," Sorrell says.Letter to Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell