Notable Alums


Specialty: Psychiatry

Graduation Year: 1959

Phyllis Harrison-Ross

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, M.D. ’59, is a trained pediatrician, psychiatrist and community mental health professional who pioneered programs for developmentally disabled and mentally ill children. Her programs were introduced into public schools and helped reduce the number of institutionalized children.

Dr. Harrison-Ross, a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at New York Medical College, has served as a hospital clinical administrator, researcher, academician, public health consultant, forensic and child psychiatrist, and public educator for underserved populations.

She was director and chief of Psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital Community Mental Health Center in New York City until 1999, and also served as associate medical director and president of its medical board. Dr. Harrison-Ross was appointed by President Nixon to his Drug Abuse Prevention Advisory Board and President Johnson to the first National Minority Advisory Board of the National Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration. She is currently serving as the governor-appointed commissioner of the New York State Commission of Correction and is a member and chair of its Medical Review Board. Dr. Harrison-Ross’ two books are on child and adolescent development. They are entitled: “The Black Child – A Parent’s Guide” and “Getting it Together” – a text book for junior and senior high school students who are reading on a fifth grade level. Dr. Harrison-Ross has also written and co-written several textbook chapters and articles on prison health.

Dr. Harrison-Ross immersed herself in interfaith disaster mental health services after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the Katrina Hurricane disaster, and is the volunteer president of All Healers Mental Health Alliance. She is a trustee and chair of the New York Society for Ethical Culture’s Social Service Board and a trustee of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Schools. Its Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross Public Service Award is named in her honor. She served for over 25 years as a member of the board of directors of Children’s Television Workshop, producers of “Sesame Street”, etc. She then began using teleconferencing to do psychiatric treatment, supervision and training as well as televisitation to incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized individuals and families.

She was appointed to the International Advisory Board of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. She is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, former president of Black Psychiatrists of America and was an elected member of the American Hospital Association’s Governing Council. She received the APA’s Solomon Carter Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in 2004, Distinguished Clinical Scholar of the National Medical Association in 2004, the Leadership in Medicine Award of the Susan Smith McKinney Stewart Society in 1978 and the Award of Merit of the Public Health Association of New York City in 1980.
(Dr. Harrison-Ross died Jan. 16, 2017)