Posted May 18th, 2010
NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin, left, prepares to confer an honorary doctorate of engineering upon Irving McPhail.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) today conferred an honorary doctor of engineering degree upon Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME), America’s largest private provider of engineering scholarships for underrepresented minority students.
The following citation was read during the commencement ceremonies for the 155th graduating class of NYU-Poly:
Dr. McPhail – By your scholarship and your deeds, you have prepared the path for the next generation to solve unprecedented engineering challenges that face our planet. Under your vital leadership, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering brings the strength of diversity to America’s engineering schools. Thanks to your dedication and your wisdom, these highly educated students become leaders who protect and grow our economy and our collective future.
Your own academic path provides an inspiration to every generation. Growing up in Harlem the son of an upholsterer and a homemaker, you attended Stuyvesant High School and were awarded an academic scholarship to Cornell University, where you studied development sociology. The Harvard Graduate School of Education awarded you a master’s degree in reading. You were selected as a National Fellowships Fund Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where you earned your doctorate in reading and language arts. You dedicated your life to ensuring that young people, particularly those from underrepresented minorities, could share the joy and opportunities that you discovered through education.
You inspired students as a teacher and a tenured faculty member. You inspired students, faculty, and staff as president of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and president of LeMoyne-Owen College, where your Community Outreach program became one of President George H. Bush’s “Daily Points of Light.” Your vision created a powerful force for higher education in Maryland when as chancellor you reorganized three community colleges into a single, highly regarded public college, The Community College of Baltimore County.
As a writer and book editor, you taught us how to teach. As a leader of academic and educational boards, you reminded us that we must strive to make America’s higher education classrooms as diverse as America. You are tireless in your efforts to nurture new engineers, serving as a director of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, a founding member of the National Engineers Week Foundation Diversity Council, and as president and chief executive officer of our country’s largest private provider of scholarships for underrepresented minority students in engineering.
In recognition of your extraordinary contributions to education, and to the education of so many engineers, Polytechnic Institute of New York University is privileged to confer upon you today the degree Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.
Speaking to the recipients of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, Dr. McPhail emphasized the strength that diversity brings to NYU-Poly’s academic mission of fostering invention, innovation and engineering – i2e. He said: “Increasing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opens the doors for new approaches to solving problems and allows for new ways of thinking and, therefore, the potential for greatness.”
NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin challenged the 1,600 graduates of Polytechnic Institute of New York University to become agents of change in a world that needs their technical expertise. Other speakers at the commencement in Radio City Music Hall included Representative Anthony Weiner, U.S. congressman for New York’s 9th District; Dr. Dianne Rekow, NYU-Poly provost; Ralph C. Alexander, chair of NYU-Poly’s Board of Trustees; David W. McLaughlin, NYU provost, and Christine Ianuzzi, chair of Polytechnic Institute Alumni Association.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is one of New York City’s most comprehensive schools of engineering, applied sciences, technology, and research, and is rooted in a 156-year tradition of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship: i2e.
The institution, founded in 1854, is one of the nation’s oldest private engineering schools. In addition to its main campus at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. NYU-Poly has centers in Long Island, Manhattan and Westchester County; globally, it has programs in Israel, China and will be an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi opening in autumn 2010.