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A Legacy of Learning: Queens University of Charlotte Mourns the Loss of Trustee Emerita Cynthia H. Tyson, Ph.D.

Jan 09, 2024 By Queens University Communications

The Queens community mourns the passing of Cynthia H. Tyson, Ph.D., a beloved member of the university family. A champion who inspired others with unwavering dedication and boundless generosity, Tyson was a passionate advocate who believed in the transformative power of education, the importance of environmental conservation, and the restorative power of art.   

Tyson’s legacy at Queens is multifaceted and profound. A native of England, she joined Queens in 1969 as a faculty member of the English department. After ten years, she was named dean and vice president for academic affairs. In this role, Tyson steered the university’s intellectual journey, shaping curriculum, nurturing faculty, and ensuring a vibrant learning environment for Queens students until her departure in 1985.    

“Cynthia’s insightful leadership helped build a solid foundation of academic programs and initiatives that continue to thrive at our university today,” said Queens University President Dan Lugo. “While we celebrate her life and many impactful accomplishments, we offer her family our deepest condolences during this time of mourning.”      

Upon leaving Queens, Tyson took the next step in her professional journey by becoming the eighth president of Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia. While there, she worked closely with students and faculty to facilitate the creation of the Office of African American Affairs, which would later become the Office of Inclusive Excellence. She was also influential in creating the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin University in 1993, the nation’s only all-female corps of cadets, which forged a legacy of empowering young women to become leaders, both in the military and in civilian careers.   

After her tenure at Mary Baldwin University, Tyson became president of The Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation, which was established by her late partner, in 2003. The Foundation, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a non-profit charitable organization that provides philanthropic support for various art and environmental initiatives.   

In 2003, she also received the Presbyterian Church (USA) Higher Education Award for her outstanding contributions to the church’s higher education ministry.    

In 2009, she returned to Queens and joined the Board of Trustees, serving two consecutive terms. She was named a Trustee Emerita in 2017.  She then served another term from 2018 through 2022. She was chair of the Board’s Academics Committee and was actively involved in the Executive and Investment Committees. In recognition of her lifelong selfless dedication to service, she was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2013.  
“During her time on our Board of Trustees, Cynthia served as an esteemed advisor who provided thoughtful and valuable guidance to us during some of our most challenging times. We cannot express how thankful we are for her dedicated service to our university,” said Lugo. “It was clear that Queens held a special place in Cynthia’s heart, and her shining legacy will never fade on our campus.”  

She is survived by her son, Marcus James Tyson, of Winterton, United Kingdom, and her daughter, Alexandra Elizabeth Butler, of Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Hannah Elizabeth Butler MacLeod and her husband, Ian, and Christopher Michael Butler; and her two great-grandchildren, Kiera Lily MacLeod and Jack Hilton MacLeod.  

A memorial service will be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 16 at 11 a.m.    
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial gifts be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church, Mary Baldwin University, or Queens University of Charlotte. Please note “In Memory of Dr. Cynthia Tyson” in the comments section of the Queens Online Giving Form.