Monday, September 19, 2016


"One college turns its football field into a farm and sees its students transform" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2016


SUMMARY:  At Paul Quinn College, where once there was a football field, now there's an organic farm.  It's not just a symbol of renewal for this once-struggling historically black college in Dallas; it's where students work to pay tuition.  As part of our Rethinking College series, Hari Sreenivasan explores how students learn to understand the expectations of a career while gaining a liberal arts education.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now we begin a special week-long look at the ways that some schools, educators and leaders are trying to transform higher education.  The goal? To prepare students for the modern work force.

The series is called Rethinking College, part of PBS' Spotlight Education initiative, which features special programming examining today's challenges.

Tonight, Hari Sreenivasan visits Dallas, where an innovative college president is growing a new kind of student.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  At a Texas college, a football field that was turned into a farm.

MAN:  We need to harvest about 10 pounds of radishes.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The Tigers of Paul Quinn College lost more football games than they won on this field.  So, nine years ago, when the historically black college on the South Side of Dallas was in financial crisis and had a 1 percent graduation rate, a new president turned everything over, including the football field.

So, did you envision this when you first saw the football field and the…

MICHAEL SORRELL, President, Paul Quinn College:  No, no.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Michael Sorrell had no experience running a college.  He had been a lawyer and White House special assistant, but he knew Paul Quinn couldn't afford a football program.

MICHAEL SORRELL:  There's more than one field of dreams, all right?  Why should we tie everyone's future to athletic success?

HARI SREENIVASAN:  He turned the football field into an organic farm that generates more than 20,000 pounds of organic vegetables every year, veggies that make it into high-end restaurants and into the Dallas Cowboys' stadium.

MICHAEL SORRELL:  I think this has saved our school.  It saved it because it changed the narrative of the institution.

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