HBCU President Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Saint Augustine's University announced that President Dr. Irving McPhail passed away. On July 15, he was appointed the 12th president in the history of the historical Black college.

"It's with great sadness to announced the passing of our 12th President of SAU, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail," the university said in a statement Thursday night.

"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."

According to St. Augustine's University Board Chair James Perry, McPhail died of complications from COVID-19 but stressed that no students contracted it from him.

"He contracted COVID-19 off campus," said Perry. "Everyone he came into contact with was quarantined. One person he did come into contact with tested positive. That person has recovered and returned to work."

Perry called McPhail's death a tragedy, saying being appointed university president in July was his dream job and that he was their dream president. On Friday, students and staff left flowers at his residence in honor of his contributions to the school.

The university will begin looking for a new president, but as of now Dr. Maria A. Lumpkin will serve as interim president, effective immediately. Details of memorial arrangements and events at the university will be published on the school's website.

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