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Heights Alumni

BC alum succeeds as forensic psychiatrist

In 1999, the BC Alumni Association bestowed the Award of Excellence for Health Professionals upon Dr. Robert T.M. Phillips.
In 1999, the BC Alumni Association bestowed the Award of Excellence for Health Professionals upon Dr. Robert T.M. Phillips.
In honor of Black History Month, The Heights is profiling African American alumni who have risen to prominent positions in their respective fields. Dr. Phillips is a well-known and experienced forensic psychiatrist. He graduated from BC in 1972.



Dr. Robert T.M. Phillips, BC '72, graduated from Boston College in three years with a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in Biology and Psychology. Dr. Phillips was born in New York City where he attended Jesuit schools from kindergarten through college. Dr. Phillips is presently a forensic psychiatrist and the medical director for the private firm Forensic Consultation Associates, Inc., which specializes in psychiatric consultations for national civil and criminal litigation. He is also an adjunct associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland Schools of Medicine and Law, a lecturer and former assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and a lecturer and former adjunct clinical professor of correctional mental health at New York Medical College Graduate School of Health Sciences.

Phillips has appeared on many television programs such as 60 Minutes, NBC News, ABC News, Oprah and Burden of Proof. Since 1996 he has also been the consulting psychiatrist for Protective Intelligence of the Secret Service, which investigates threats against the president of the United States. He is also a special consultant to Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, on issues of television parental guidelines.

Phillips attended BC during an interesting time in the University's history. The years 1969 to 1972 were a time of intense radicalism and awareness of the need for social change. As vice president of UGBC and an active member of Black Talent a precursor to AHANA programs that attempted to diversify Boston College Dr. Phillips was in the center of important changes at BC. At the time, BC was admitting a heightened number of minority students through programs like Black Talent and even turned Fenwick into an African-American dorm, where Phillips lived for one year.

Phillips said "the administration embodied what you'd expect from a Jesuit institution," and that BC administrators created a "nurturing environment." In regards to students at the time, Phillips explained that some students made campus "quite foreign" and "hostile" at times for minority students. Phillips believed this was mostly due to ignorance, as many students were not used to students of color.

From BC, Phillips attended Harvard University, where he obtained his master's in Education with a concentration in administration planning and public psychiatry. He then attended Tufts University Medical School for advanced graduate studies, while at the same time participating in a Health Internship Program with the NAACP. In 1975, Phillips attended the University of Iowa Science Education Center to work toward his PhD. During his years at Iowa, he also worked toward his M.D. at the Mayo Medical School. By doing so, Phillips completed his PhD and M.D. within one week of each other.

Phillips had multiple internships in the medical field after finishing his M.D. He held an internship at the Harlem Hospital Medical Center and a sub-internship at the Sloan Hospital for Women at Columbia University and Bellevue Hospital at the New York University School of Medicine. He later completed his internship training at the Mayo Clinic and his residency in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. While at Yale, he was also the chief resident of Psychiatry.

After completing his residency at Yale, Phillips became the director of forensic services for the Connecticut Department of Health. From 1986 to 1993, he acted as the chief executive officer of the Whiting Forensic Institute, the only maximum-security hospital in Connecticut. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Phillips was the deputy medical director of the American Psychiatric Association in the Nation's capital. While at the APA, he was director of the APA Offices on Psychiatric Services, Minority and National Affairs and was clinical director of the Office of Economic Affairs and Practice Management.

In 1998, Phillips went into private practice as medical director of Forensic Consulting Associates, Inc. In 1999, Phillips received the Award of Excellence in Health Professions from the Boston College Alumni Association for his illustrious career as a psychiatrist.

On reflecting back on his career at Boston College, Phillips described it as an "intense cultural experience." He is proud that BC still tries to make it financially possible for students to go here through financial aid and grants. Phillips said that without this aid when he was a student, he would probably not have been able to attend BC.

"Boston College has committed themselves to giving kids a chance," said Phillips. "Without it, you'd have a homogeneous culture."

Without his Boston College experience and education, Dr. Robert T. M. Phillips could not see how he would have been able to attend Harvard to continue his academic career towards an M.D. Phillips said he believes that "Boston College was an important brick in the foundation of my academic and social development."

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