In Memoriam: Ogretta Ann Humphries Vaughn McNeil, 1932-2016

ogretta_mcneilOgretta McNeil, associate professor emerita of psychology at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, died last month. She was 84 years old.

Dr. McNeil was was the first African American woman to serve on the faculty at the College of the Holy Cross. She also was the first woman tenure-track faculty member in the psychology department at the college.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Dr. McNeil completed high school in Washington, D.C., and then went to Howard University. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Howard, she enrolled in the master’s degree program at Clark University in 1956. After taking time off to raise a family, McNeil returned to Clark University in 1964 to complete a Ph.D. in psychology.

Before joining the faculty at the College of the Holy Cross in 1970, Dr. McNeil taught at Assumption College and Anna Maria College, both in Massachusetts. She taught at the College of Holy Cross for 27 years. Later, Dr. McNeil was elected to the Worcester School Committee.

Dr. McNeil at the College of the Holy Cross, 1974
Dr. McNeil at the College of the Holy Cross, 1974

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  1. Dr. McNeil was a wonderful professor and a very kind person. She invited me to her house for a home cooked dinner when I was far from home as freshman at the College of the Holy Cross. At that time (~1978) there were probably no more than twenty African American students in the freshman class, and the campus as a whole was not as welcoming as it could have been. Fortunately there were wonderful exceptions among the students and the faculty. I remember Dr. McNeil with great fondness. My condolences to her son. Dr. McNeil was a great example of excellence in academia and a woman who truly lived the Golden Rule. May she rest in peace.

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