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Irving McPhail, new president of St. Augustine’s University, dies of COVID-19

Several people associated with the HBCU gathered outside his residence to pay their respects to the educator

Dr. Irving P. McPhail, who took over as president of St. Augustine’s University this summer, died earlier this month just days after testing positive for coronavirus. He was 71.

McPhail became the 12th president of St. Augustine’s on July 15, succeeding Dr. Everett Ward as head of the private historically black college in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Several students and faculty members of the school have gathered outside McPhail’s residence to honor the short-lived president, local newspaper The News & Observer reports.

Dr. Irving P. McPhail
Dr. Irving P. McPhail

In September, McPhail went into self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with coronavirus, the fast-spreading novel virus that causes the COVID-19 disease that been attributed to more than 1 million deaths around the globe in less than a year. This prompted him to give his Sept. 17

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St. Augustine’s University President Irving McPhail dies of covid-19 complications

McPhail tested positive while still mostly asymptomatic, Perry said. But about two weeks ago, McPhail had difficulty breathing and was taken to the emergency room. His condition seemed to be improving while he was hospitalized, but about three days ago, he took a turn for the worse, Perry said. He died Thursday night.

“We were very hopeful and prayerful,” Perry said, “But that’s the nature of this pandemic. Nobody knows what it’s going to do.”

McPhail was an inspiration to the students, Perry said. “He had the Ivy League background — but he didn’t have the Ivy League arrogance.” McPhail was a first-generation college student, born and raised in Harlem, Perry said. “Our students could relate.

“He was a good person,” Perry said. “That’s my ultimate compliment.”

McPhail earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, his master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and his doctorate from the

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