Retirement Approaches for RGC’s Paul Sorrels

Dr. Paul Sorrels

By Laura Nelson

Even though he aspired to be a professional French horn player when he went off to college after high school, Paul Sorrels said, “I became more interested in people than notes,” and now the psychologist-turned-administrator is retiring from Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College.

During his six years of service at Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College he developed and implemented several new educational programs including the newly-accredited nursing program, which offers Registered Nurses a path to earn a bachelor’s degree. High school teachers can earn the Master of Education with a specialization in college teaching that will qualify them to teach college-level courses, an important upgrade to their skills as more public schools encourage students to complete an associate’s degree while earning a high school diploma.

He was also instrumental in starting the new RGC site in Castroville and believes it brings more opportunity to students at all of the sites. He worked tirelessly to raise scholarship funds for students from area businesses, banks and organizations and has coordinated with Southwest Texas Junior College to streamline the process for those students to complete bachelors’ degrees.

He was born in Dallas and graduated high school in Richardson, but during his school years the family moved around the U.S. as his father, an electrical engineer, moved up in his career. His mother was a Registered Nurse and the pair had a total of six sons. Dr. Sorrels said his dad always enjoyed identifying and solving problems, a trait he passed on to Paul.

When he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, he wanted to help people. During the mid-70s, many people looked to their minister to provide counseling, so he entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although he learned plenty the year and a half he attended, he didn’t feel he was getting the training for what he really wanted to do. He entered a master’s program at Texas Woman’s University and started studying general psychology. He was a teaching assistant for a professor who was developing a new program in family therapy, and Sorrels helped with the curriculum and the textbooks. He added that coursework and graduated with a master’s in general psychology plus marital and family therapy. He also earned his Ph.D. at Texas Woman’s Univ. with specializations in group dynamics and organization behavior, statistical analysis and research design, and marital and family therapy.

He began his higher education career by teaching part time, found he enjoyed it, and made a career out of it. He taught several places around Texas and then became a tenured professor at Hardin-Simmons Univ. where he advanced to Dean of Graduate Studies and Special Programs. From there, he went to Bluefield College in Virginia as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, then back to Texas to East Texas Baptist Univ. in Marshall where he was the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Dr. Sorrels is looking forward to relaxing in Colorado this summer, and then he and wife Cherry will move to the Dallas area to live near their daughters. Cherry served as his unpaid driver/assistant as they drove over 200,000 miles during his time at RGC, and both are looking forward to this new chapter in their lives.