St. Augustine's University President Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Oct 16, 2020

Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, the 12th president of Saint Augustine's University, died on Thursday, just three months after his tenure began.
Credit Photo courtesy of Saint Augustine's University

The Saint Augustine's University community is mourning the death of its president.

Irving McPhail died this week from complications of COVID-19. Officials said he did not contract the virus from the campus.

McPhail was president of the historically Black university in Raleigh for roughly 100 days before he passed. He started as president July 15, following a nationwide search.

"This was his dream job and he was our dream leader," said James Perry, the chairman of Saint Augustine's Board of Trustees. "But now that he's gone, the dream will not be different. This will become a stepping stone instead of a stumbling block and we intend to make sure that his legacy is fulfilled."

As the school's 12th president, McPhail hoped Saint Augustine's would reach a milestone of enrolling 1,000 students. He also wanted to establish an institute at the university that would study racial disparities.

Before becoming president, he served as the founding chancellor of the Community College of Baltimore County, the president of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, and the president of Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis, TN.

"Sometimes out of tragedy comes a lot of things," Perry said. "Like the coal when you press on it, they turn into diamonds. We’re going to be a diamond."

Vice President Maria Lumpkin will serve as interim president.

University officials say the details of a memorial are still be worked out.