Former Cypress President to Lead University

Former Cypress College president Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail has been named president of St. Augustine’s University in east Raleigh, NC. She takes the role held by her husband, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, who passed away in October 2020 after contracting COVID-19.

Christine Johnson McPhail poses for portrait
Christine Johnson McPhail, former Cypress College president, has been named president of St. Augustine’s University in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine’s University

The St. Augustine’s University Board of Trustees announced Johnson McPhail’s appointment as the HBCU institution’s 13th president in late February. The presidential search committee who selected her was made up of trustees, alumni, faculty, deans, local government officials and members of the surrounding business community.

“We are excited and fortunate to have an innovative, proven … 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,” James E. Perry, chairman of the St. Augustine’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement.

Johnson McPhail was Cypress College’s first Black and first female president when she was hired in 1995. She stepped down in June 1998, the same month she married her late husband.

Since her departure from Cypress, Johnson McPhail has served as a professor of practice at the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership at Kansas State University, and the founding professor and director of Morgan State University’s community college leadership doctoral program. She has also worked as a leadership coach for Achieving the Dream from 2004 to 2018.

“I am committed to the success of this University and each of its students,” she said in a statement. “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 [St. Augustine’s University] community to move us forward.”

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