Revered Saybrook alumnus passes away, leaves lasting impact

By Saybrook University

Royal Alsup, Ph.D., Saybrook alumnus and adjunct faculty member, passes away, teaching many the importance of understanding and love.


Royal Alsup headshot 1
Royal Alsup

Saybrook alumnus and former adjunct faculty member Royal Alsup passed away peacefully on October 10, 2018 at 78 years of age. Loved and admired by many, Dr. Alsup was a true family man and passionate advocate for African American and Native American children, as well as an educator and psychotherapist. He is remembered fondly by his family and those whose lives he impacted with kindness and compassion.

Dr. Alsup served as an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University for many years, and left an enduring impression on his students and colleagues.

“He was a beautiful soul,” says Kirk Schneider, Ph.D., Saybrook adjunct faculty member and friend of Dr. Alsup. “A tireless advocate of social justice, Martin Luther King’s liberation theology, and Native American rights and culture, among other just causes.”

Dr. Alsup was raised in south central Los Angeles. His passion for social justice and equality was ignited in childhood, when he was often the only Caucasian child on his community baseball teams. As a kindergartener, he staged a sit-in outside of the principal’s office after witnessing the mistreatment of an African American classmate. His intolerance for racism and prejudice continued on into adulthood.

From 1957 to 1966, Dr. Alsup served in the United States Marine Corps until he was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Although he later went on to become a scholar, Alsup was not always an academic person. He left high school after his freshman year and earned his GED during his time in the service. He then utilized the G.I. Bill to continue on to higher education. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Dr. Alsup found his way to Saybrook University where he earned his Ph.D. in Humanistic Psychology in 1975. At the time, Dr. Alsup was one of very few people in the world to have earned a degree in this relatively new field.

Dr. Alsup dedicated much of his professional life to serving underrepresented populations. As one example, Dr. Alsup was able to prevent more than 300 Native American children from being taken away from their homes and families, and aided many Native American students in earning their master’s and doctoral degrees. His efforts also gave rise to the Mental Health Department at United Indian Health Services. Additionally, Dr. Alsup served as the Director of Education at the Indian Action Council and as a consulting psychologist to Humboldt County Mental Health.

He also practiced psychotherapy with his wife, Patricia, for 27 years. Their commitment to helping others left a powerful and unforgettable impact on the lives of those they treated.

One community he focused on in particular was survivors of gun violence. Courtney Weaver suffered a gunshot wound to the head, yet survived. Dr. Alsup was her counselor while she worked to overcome the emotional and psychological turmoil of such an event.

“He helped me through one of the most difficult years of my life,” Weaver says. “He even saw me for free when my insurance for such counseling ran out. He was truly a wonderful man.”

Loved by his family, friends, students, colleagues, and those he treated, Dr. Alsup showed many the importance of acceptance and selflessness. His legacy is one that won’t soon be forgotten.

“He was such a loving person,” Dr. Schneider says. “He had such a big-heartedness, warmth, and empathetic nature toward not only those who are oppressed, but also colleagues. He was a tireless warrior for humanism.”