Austin College President Marjorie Hass has announced that Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, will present the address for approximately 300 undergraduate and 15 Master of Arts in Teaching degree candidates during the 2017 Commencement exercises Sunday, May 14, at 8:30 a.m. on the Clyde L. Hall Graduation Court at Austin College. The speaker will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College during the ceremony. Rev. Janice Lynne Edmiston, co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), will deliver the Baccalaureate sermon Saturday, May 13, at 7 p.m. in Sid Richardson Center of Mason Athletic Complex. During Commencement, Edmiston will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Senior Ganesh Maniam of The Woodlands, Texas, who is completing a major in business administration and a minor in leadership studies and will attend medical school this fall, was elected by his classmates to present the senior address.
Sorrell became the 34th president of Paul Quinn College in 2007 and under his leadership, the school has been recognized as one of the most innovative small colleges in the country. Among other honor for innovation and excellence, Paul Quinn has been named the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) of the Year. The president has been recognized for his unique leadership initiatives at Paul Quinn and in the surrounding Oak Cliff community, such as creating the country’s first federally recognized urban work college, transforming the school’s football field into an organic farm.
In 2016, Sorrell was named HBCU Male President of the Year, becoming the only two-time recipient of that award, which he first received in 2012. Honored many times for his leadership, he recently was named the third most influential HBCU President in America, and Washington Monthly magazine identified him as one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents.
A 1988 graduate of Oberlin College, Dr. Sorrell then attended Duke University, where he earned a master’s degree in public policy in 1990 and a law degree in 1994. He received a doctorate in higher education administration in 1995 at the University of Pennsylvania.
Before taking the helm at Paul Quinn College, Dr. Sorrell worked for several Dallas law firms, receiving many awards for civic leadership and contributions to the Dallas legal community.
Edmiston was elected by the commissioners of the 2016 General Assembly to serve as a co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In that volunteer role, Rev. Edmiston will serve through June 2018 as an ambassador for the denomination in work that includes preaching and public speaking for congregations, conferences, and mid-council gatherings throughout the United States; representing the denomination at international gatherings; and serving on the board of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Since 2011, she has served as associate executive for ministry in the Presbytery of Chicago.
A native North Carolina, Rev. Edmiston earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before completing a master’s degree in divinity at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. She was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, having received a call to serve as pastor of the Presbyterian United Church of Schaghticoke, New York.
After earning a Doctor of Ministry degree with a focus in Christian spirituality from Columbia Theological Seminary, Rev. Edmiston and her husband moved to National Capital Presbytery in 1989 to serve as Designated Co-Pastors of Fairlington Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. She served the congregation for 22 years before moving with her husband to Chicago, where he accepted a call in Flossmoor, Illinois, and she serves as an associate executive for ministry in the Presbytery of Chicago.
Maniam received many honors during his years at Austin College including the 2016 Oscar C. Page Servant of the Year Award and Robert Rogers Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, plus the Sara and Robert Hallam Citizen Scholarship, The Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Erwin Fellowship for an Outstanding Student in Pre-Medical Studies, a 2016 Global Outreach Fellowship for international service in Tanzania with International Volunteer Headquarters, and the 2015 Robert Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship for Campus Leadership. Earlier this year, he received the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) national service fraternity John Mack Scholarship in recognition of leadership and service. He has been a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honorary Society of Economics, Campus Activities Board, the Indian Cultural Association, and the Austin College Service Station Board.
A member and past president of the Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity chapter at Austin College, he has coordinated many events for the organization. He also has completed organizational and fundraising work for Global Medical Brigades of Sherman, participated in Austin College’s Alternative Spring Break service trips, and completed volunteer EMT rotations during the summer as well as volunteer positions with the North Cypress Medical Center. His ultimate goal is to serve as a physician with Doctors Without Borders and to open a non-profit hospital. He is the son of Drs. Bala and Santhi Maniam.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.