Mary Olive McPhaul Dies


Mary Olive McPhaul, retired dean of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, passed away about 6:30 p.m. on January 8, 2013


“‘Dean McPhaul,' as many called her, was a second mother to thousands of young people, including me. She was firm yet gentle, always expecting and encouraging the best of us and tapping us back into the proper lane whenever we wandered. She was a beautiful and wonderful lady, a perfect role model and a loyal friend. Thank God for Mary Olive McPhaul.” – Dr. Joseph Savoie, president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette


Mary Olive McPhaul retired on July 1, 1991, as dean of student life at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The same year, the university recognized McPhaul with its Honorary Alumni Award. She is one of only four people to ever receive the award, which acknowledges extraordinary loyalty and service.

McPhaul, a descendant of a long line of ministers and educators, was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond McPhaul of Birmingham, Ala..

Educated at public schools in Birmingham, she earned a bachelor's degree from the city's Samford University.

McPhaul taught in public schools in Alabama. She also taught in Samford's English department, but her true calling would prove to be working with students outside the classroom.

She received her master's degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Alabama. A career rooted in gaining a deeper understanding of young people began in earnest when she became resident counselor at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

McPhaul arrived at UL Lafayette in 1957 as associate dean of women. She became dean of women, then coordinator and administrator of the department of student personnel before, in 1980, accepting the post she held until retirement.

As dean of student life, McPhaul oversaw numerous programs, initiatives and organizations that included UL Lafayette's Counseling and Testing Center, Student Health Services and Child Development Center.

Her far-reaching involvement with students ranged from work with the university's intramural programs to individual counseling.

McPhaul coordinated UL Lafayette's freshman orientation, led student organizations and both guided or was a member of many honor societies, including the Alpha Lambda Delta women's honor society, Phi Kappa Phi national honor society and Pi Delta Phi French honor society.

She served as advisor to the Panhellenic Council, and was a member of the American Association for University Women.

McPhaul was a member of First Baptist Church of Lafayette, where she served as associate director of the church's Sunday school department.

The Rose Garden, a courtyard nestled in residence halls of UL Lafayette between E. University Ave and Boucher St., is dedicated to her.


Funeral services will be at First Baptist Church Lafayette. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to either First Baptist Christian School, P. O. Box 3888, Lafayette, LA 70502 or University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation, P. O. Box 44290, Lafayette, LA 70504.

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