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ings and a four-year graduation rate of 1 percent. It seemed less "fixer-upper" than "lost cause." Sorrell went to work right away. He axed the expensive football program and turned the playing field into a farm, where students can work and from which food gets donated to the surrounding neighborhood. He traveled the country, visiting other colleges to learn from their presidents, and building up recruiting relationships with high schools. He nearly doubled the size of the student body, and raised millions from donors and corporate partners, enough to put (and keep) the school in the black. The stunning turnaround of Paul Quinn has made Sorrell into a mini-celebrity. He's been interviewed on HBO, spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and participated in countless higher education panels. But what he is increasingly getting attention for is the work program, which he first rolled out in 2015. All students are required to work at least eight hours a week, first on campus for the college, then off campus for participating employers. Twenty-four hundred dollars of students' wages per year go to offsetting their tuition, the rest goes into their pockets. This has allowed Paul Quinn to slash its total cost of attendance from $23,800 to $14,275 a year. Sor- It's not uncommon for Sorrell and his staff to be on a firstname basis with students who are still in high school. rell's goal is to get students into the job market with less than $10,000 in debt; the average student takes on only $2,300 in loans a year after Pell Grants and other subsidies along with work tuition credits. The idea that students of modest means can contribute some of their labor in exchange for lower tuition is not new. Some Catholic high schools and a few rural liberal arts colleges have long operated that way. But Sorrell is the first to apply the model in an urban college setting. He is also the first to extend the concept beyond low-skill on-campus jobs to off-campus positions with private-sector employers, where students can garner skills and connections that might give them a leg up in the post-college job market. This "New Urban College Model," as Sorrell calls it, addresses some of the most pressing problems in higher education: how to substantially reduce tuition for lower-income, and especially minority, students in a way that colleges can afford; how to do so for students who need the high-touch support of a liberal arts college and who might otherwise get lost in a larger public university; and how to better integrate a liberal arts education with the job market. (Sorrell thinks his model can achieve even more-that reinventing the urban campus can also bring back depressed urban neighborhoods.) 68 September/October 2016 It's no wonder that Sorrell's innovations are a hot topic in higher ed reform circles. The question is whether those interventions are, in wonk-speak, "replicable." In other words, can other schools achieve what Paul Quinn College has without a one-in-a-million leader like Michael Sorrell? ike a lot of colleges these days, Paul Quinn offers a "summer bridge" program, in which incoming students spend six weeks getting acclimated to college life in general and to Paul Quinn in particular by living in dorms and taking a few introductory classes. Unlike at other colleges, the president of Paul Quinn teaches one. "What's on your mind?" asks Sorrell at the beginning of one such class this past summer. Only two weeks into their pre-college experience, the assembled students aren't afraid to share. They end up discussing the then-recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, touching on religion, gun control, and gay rights over the course of twenty minutes, leading into Sorrell's actual lesson plan about what makes a community. The conversation isn't purely free-form; when a student is called on, she must first stand up and announce her name loudly to the class. Any drops in volume, grammatical errors, or uses of the dreaded filler word "like" will get called out by Sorrell. "He's intense and kinda tortures students when he's teaching them," says junior Elexis Evans, one of his TAs, before quickly adding, "But he's a great professor." Sorrell is six foot four, with an athlete's physique, and he holds court with the confidence of someone who doesn't mind reminding you that he was a star basketball player at Oberlin College. But even in his toughness he exudes empathy, recognizing which students he can needle and poke fun at and which ones need more positive reinforcement to get their confidence up. When the community lesson turns to crime and punishment-specifically marijuana legalization-he poses a question: "Hypothetically, how many of you have been in the vicinity of something illegal, like getting high?" About two dozen hands go up-which is about two dozen more than you'd expect from a bunch of soon-to-be college freshmen facing down the president of their Christian school. He laughs and gestures at those with their hands down. "Now, I know some of you are lying." Sorrell says he pushes students over the summer to prepare them for college, but offers enough support that they understand it's constructive. "You can't allow them to not be educated, but you have to create a safe space," he says. "I spend a lot of time affirming my students. You're safe, I love you, I'm here with you for the long haul." And that safe space can mean the occasional questioning of the professor. When he chides a student for starting her sentence with "I feel like," classmates protest in her defense, arguing that it's proper usage and not a filler. Sorrell argues that it's not incorrect but rather "substandard," in an attempt to quell the semantic mutiny as students break out their phones to check dictionary apps and weigh in. They're eager to prove themselves; in many cases, it's why they were recruited to Paul Quinn in the first place. About eight in ten students are getting Pell Grants, and more than 70 percent will get no money l

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