Paul Quinn College is said to be the oldest HBCU in the state of Texas, and the nation’s first “work college” located in an urban area. The school was founded on April 4, 1872 in Austin.
The school was initially founded as the Connectional High School and Institute for the Education of Negro Youth by a group of African Methodist Episcopal preachers. It was established to educated freed slaves and their children and largely focused on vocational studies. The school moved to Waco in 1887, and in 1881, it was renamed after William Paul Quinn, a Methodist missionary.
The school struggled to thrive in the ‘60s due to poor conditions and the fact larger schools in the region began opening its doors to Black students thus making Paul Quinn College a less attractive destination. Further, the quality of education present at the school paled in comparison. However, Dean William Milton Collins turned around the school’s misfortunes and by the early ‘70s, Paul Quinn began attracting a larger student body along with bolstering its academic approach.
In the ‘80s, prominent African-American businessman Comer J. Cottrell opened the doors for Paul Quinn to move to the vacant location of Bishop College in Dallas in 1990, where it remains today. School president Michael J. Sorrell, a lawyer, moved from being a board of trustees member and interim president before taking on his current role in 2007. Sorrell has helped transform Paul Quinn into one of the best small colleges in the nation, and is one of eight work colleges in the nation.
Notable alumni include Dick Campbell, a mentor of the late Ozzie Davis and Andy “Lefty” Cooper, a Negro Leagues pitcher who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.