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Thursday, October 22, 2020

HBCU President Dies of COVID-19 Just Months After Being Hired

Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, president of St. Augustine's University

Nationwide — Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, President of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, has sadly died of COVID-19. He apparently contracting the virus from another person who also tested positive for the virus. He had just began serving as president of the HBCU in July.

When McPhail, who is 71-years old, was informed that he came into contact with a staff who tested positive for the coronavirus, he immediately self-quarantined. After a few days, he experienced symptoms.

He was hospitalized and put on a ventilator before he died two weeks after finding out that he had COVID-19.

The unnamed staff, who met with McPhail prior to testing positive for the virus, has since recovered and gone back to work. Two other students who tested positive for the virus are also recovering.

McPhail started serving as Saint Augustine’s 12th president in July. He was previously the president at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and at Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. He was also the founder of McPhail Group LLC, a higher education consulting practice, and once worked as a founding chancellor of the Community College of Baltimore County.

“He was a transformative leader,” Board of Trustees Chairman James Perry told Spectrum News. “The students loved him. The faculty loved him. The board loved him.”

Moreover, the HBCU took to Facebook their tribute to McPhail. Even in just three months, he left a great impact on the campus and its community.

“In the short time he was the university’s chief executive officer, he made a memorable and positive impact in moving the University in the direction of being a ‘Learning Centered’ campus. The Saint Augustine’s University community deeply mourns the loss of President McPhail and we wish to extend to his wife, Dr. Christine McPhail; his children Dr. Kamilah McKissick and Mr. Ralph Bessard; family and friends left to cherish his memory our deepest condolences and prayers,” the statement read.