Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


MacPhie, Etta Phillips, 1891-1978


Etta Phillips MacPhie (1891-1978), W1913, H1976 was elected a Trustee Emeritus in 1974, having served on the Board of Trustees of Tufts University for 19 years. Known to some as "Mrs. Tufts," MacPhie was, according to President Mayer, "the best possible kind of friend that any institution could have."

Born in Bridgton, Maine, on March 28, 1891, Etta Phillips attended Lowell High School before entering Jackson College. As an undergraduate, she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. She financed her college education by reading for Professor Edwin Bolles. Her work with this blind faculty member first sparked MacPhie's interest in working with the visually impared. Graduating in 1913, MacPhie taught high school in Lowell for two years. In 1915, she married Elmore I. MacPhie, A1911. The couple had two sons, Rodney and Franklin, A1942.

She continued her work in support of the blind following graduation, helping to found the National Braille Press and organize the Lowell Association for the Blind. She also served on the corporation of the Perkins School for the Blind, and on the executive committee of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. She was a patron of the arts and other philanthropic endeavors around Boston.

In 1955, following the death of her husband, MacPhie was elected to the Board of Trustees of Tufts University, having the distinction of being the first graduate of Jackson College to hold such a position. She also joinedthe Tufts Alumni Council in 1949 and was recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in 1951 and again in 1972.In 1974, she stepped down from the Board, retaining the title Trustee Emeritus. Two years later, Tufts awarded MacPhie with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She died on November 16, 1978.

In 1970, when the Tufts student body boycotted the traditional commencement and organized their own ceremony the following day, MacPhie attended the event, talking with students and listening to their antiwar music. She was disappointed by the choice they had made to skip commencement the previous day, but she wanted to share the occasion with them and was welcomed by class members.

In response to MacPhie's continued support of the students of Tufts, the student government president marched into the last Trustees meeting of the year and demanded that she immediately become an honorary member of the student body since she "had more rapport with students than any other member of the community."The representative also demanded that she accept a donation for the formation of a scholarship in her name and a charm for her bracelet.

MacPhie Dinning Hall, built in 1962, was named for Etta and her husband, Elmore MacPhie.

Source: VF, PRS4

Subject terms:
  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
 List of Sources