Christine Johnson McPhail succeeds late husband as Saint Augustine's University president

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Christine Johnson McPhail named new Saint Augustine's University president
Christine Johnson McPhail has been named new Saint Augustine's University president, succeeding her late husband, Irving McPhail.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The presidency of Saint Augustine's University will retain a familiar name.

The Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail will become the university's 13th president effective Wednesday. The announcement comes after "an extensive national search" to fill the vacancy left after the school's 12th president -- her husband, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, died in October from a COVID-19 related illness.

"We are excited and fortunate to have an innovative, proven credential leader of Dr. Christine McPhail's stature to lead St. Augustine's University to the next level of excellence as we reimagine a new model of the HBCU of the future," said Retired Honorable Justice James E. Perry, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

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Christine McPhail, who serves as president and CEO of the McPhail Group LLC, also serves as Professor of Practice at the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership at Kansas State University. She is the Founding Professor and Director of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Under McPhail's leadership, Morgan State University received R1 Carnegie classification, indicating that the program awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees during the update year.

"I am both humbled and honored to have been selected by the Saint Augustine's University Board of Trustees to serve as its next president," McPhail said. "I am committed to the success of this University and each of its students. I also feel a responsibility to carry on my late husband's work to establish the University as a 21st Century, learning-centered institution while at the same time leaning on several decades of experience in higher education leadership and strong partnerships with the SAU community to move us forward."

After several decades in higher education, Dr. McPhail served as a leadership coach with Achieving the Dream from 2004 to 2018. The organization's mission was to help leaders shape the teaching and learning environment by engaging, aligning, and inspiring people to act. She has developed proven coaching and consulting methodologies and leadership programs that are now used by numerous institutions to help their leaders drive results.

"After interviewing several potential candidates to carry on the work unfortunately cut short by the loss of her husband, Dr. McPhail quickly rose to the top of our list," said Trustee Rodrick Miller, a Saint Augustine's alumnus. "She has distinguished herself as one of the foremost authorities in higher education leadership and strategic organizational advancement. We are certain she is the best choice to lead SAU into the future."

Dr. James West, Wake County Commissioner, added, "I had the pleasure of serving on the Saint Augustine's University Presidential Search Committee, and I celebrate the appointment of Dr. Christine McPhail as President. This is a great moment for SAU and this decision opens a vista for greater things to come in building this university's partnership with Wake County."

Irving McPhail had served as university president since July 2020, filling the vacancy left when Everett Ward's planned retirement was hastened by the university.

St. Aug's survival story is about spirit, pride and opportunity for students who may get overlooked by other colleges.