ATD is deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and friend, Dr. Irving McPhail

This blog was updated October 19, 2020, and contains new information. 


We are saddened by the news of the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Irving…Irv…McPhail.

Irv was a powerful advocate for student success and racial equity. He played a strong and lasting role in Achieving the Dream over many years. In fact, his work as founding chancellor at the Community College of Baltimore County provided a model for ATD’s early reform work, emphasizing the importance of using qualitative and quantitative data to understand the student experience. ATD tapped him to serve as a featured presenter at one of our earliest learning events, where he shared disaggregated student outcome data from his college, admitting it “wasn’t pretty,” and challenged the audience to have the courage to use their data to drive needed reforms.

Irv shared his experience and talents as an ATD leadership coach. He continually brought his knowledge and vision to colleges with whom he worked, and helped ATD mature from a promising demonstration to a nationwide movement. In particular, he provided leadership in centering racial equity in the nation’s higher education reform work for many years. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and friends at Achieving the Dream and in the field.

Irv had a long and distinguished career, and just a couple months ago, began a new presidency at Saint Augustine’s University, an Historically Black College and University in Raleigh, NC. He served as president of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, president at Lemoyne-Owen College, university provost at Pace University, vice president and dean of academic affairs at Delaware State University, and chief operating officer at the Baltimore City Public Schools. He also was president and CEO at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and, along with his wife, Dr. Christine McPhail, one of the earliest Achieving the Dream Leadership Coaches.

Irv had an intense interest in pedagogy and developmental education, rooted, no doubt, from the fact that he was originally trained as a reading specialist. He was also in the forefront of focusing on learning outcomes assessment and was known for his work in strategic planning.

We wish to extend to his wife, our dear friend Dr. Christine McPhail, and Irv’s family and friends, our deepest condolences.

A celebration of the life and legacy of President McPhail is scheduled for October 27 at 10 a.m. on the grounds of the Saint Augustine's Historic Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Saint Augustine's University Endowed Scholarship Funds bearing the McPhail name. More information is available here  

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