Just two days after the school lost its accreditation, Dr. Christine McPhail has confirmed that she was terminated as president of St. Augustine’s University by the board of trustees, local station WNCN reports.
McPhail, who assumed leadership of the university following the death of her husband said she was informed by the board of trustees on Sunday (Dec. 3) that she was fired but they did not provide specific reasons.
"I'm still trying to figure that out for myself,” McPhail said in an interview with the .
Because of financial issues, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the university on probation last year which eventually led to its loss of accreditation. The university has a deadline Jan. 24 to appeal the decision.
In October, McPhail filed a complaint that accused the board of trustees of discrimination based on her gender. The complaint stated that she was subject to humiliating remarks and verbal abuse from board members. According to David Tracey, McPhail's attorney, her termination came as result of the discrimination complaint.
"She filed an internal complaint on Oct. 9, 2023, which alleged that certain conduct created a hostile environment," Tracey said in an interview with WTVD. "Thereafter, members of the board of trustees pressured her to recant and threatened her job."
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"Dr. McPhail is a consummate professional. She's worked tirelessly to support the university and with the best interests of the university at heart," Tracey continued. "It is incredibly disheartening and disappointing that the university has taken the action it has taken against Dr. McPhail shortly after she notified the university of discrimination and retaliation."
Tracey also said that McPhail will bring her case to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC), in hopes of a resolution
Addressing the matter, the board of trustees issued a statement on Tuesday (Dec. 5)
“Chairman James Perry announced today that the Board of Saint Augustine’s University has voted to release Dr. Christine McPhail from her position as president,” the statement read. “The Board denies the unfounded allegations Dr. McPhail has made against the University, and the Board is prepared to defend itself and the institution.”
“The University will have no further comment on these issues given that this is a personnel matter. Instead, the Board is focused on restoring the University’s standing with SACSCOC under new University leadership,” the statement continued.
The board of trustees noted that its primary mission now is to regain its accreditation and begin its search for its 14th president.
“The University’s accreditation is critical to the University’s ability to continue as one of the predominant HBCUs in this Statem”the statement read. “This critical mission will remain our central focus as we continue to support the faculty, staff, alumni, and, most importantly, the students of Saint Augustine’s University.”
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