NECO Selects Dr. Howard Purcell As Next President

The New England College of Optometry Board of Trustees has named Howard Purcell, OD ’84, FAAO, Diplomate, as the thirteenth President and CEO of the College. Dr. Purcell was selected following a national search to succeed Clifford Scott, OD, MPH, who will be stepping down after serving for nine years. He will take office on July 2, 2018.

The appointment of Dr. Purcell as President comes at the conclusion of a detailed selection process during which the search committee met with a talented pool of candidates from around the country.  As Dr. Purcell assumes leadership of the College, he will oversee efforts to advance the educational, clinical, research, and service missions of the College.

Dr. Purcell says, “I am honored and thrilled to join a team of outstanding educators, administrators and optometry students who are motivated to make a difference for the profession and the patients we serve. Dr. Scott has worked hard as president to guide the path of NECO with humility, grace, and professionalism while always keeping the student front and center in the decision-making process.  I look forward to building on the solid foundation he has established.”

Dr. Purcell is a graduate of NECO’s Class of 1984 and brings a wealth of experience and success in many aspects of optometry. Throughout his career, Dr. Purcell has been an innovator in both the current and future practice of optometry and is well versed in the evolving trends and technologies in healthcare. “I am confident my experiences in private practice, academia, and industry will bring a unique perspective to the College. This is truly the only position that could convince me to leave Essilor of America and the great mission, work, and people of the company I’ve called home for the last 10 years.” says Purcell. “NECO is poised to lead optometric education into the next decade and beyond.  I am committed to working closely with the community to create and achieve the goals and objectives necessary to get us to where we need to be as a college and a profession.”

Dr. Purcell’s optometric career began with 11 years of private practice in Florida with his father, NECO alumnus Saul Purcell, OD ’54. He then joined the faculty at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, rising to the position of Deputy Dean prior to being recruited by Johnson and Johnson as Senior Director of Professional Affairs.  Most recently, Purcell has been the Senior Vice President of Customer Development for Essilor of America, the world’s largest designer and producer of premium eyeglass lenses.  Purcell has been a key member of the Essilor Leadership Team and Executive Committee for ten years, serving as the professional face of the company and leading the customer development group through significant evolution and growth. Purcell, along with his team, have continued to position Essilor as one of the most respected and trusted companies in the industry.

Board Chair Pano Yeracaris, MD, MPH, announced the selection of Dr. Purcell to the NECO community.  Dr. Yeracaris notes, “The most important job of the NECO president is to serve our students, ensuring that the College remains strong and moves us confidently into the future of optometry. Finding the right person as the new leader is the most important job for the Trustees. We are confident that Dr. Purcell is the best person to carry forward the mantle of leadership for NECO and he has demonstrated a strong commitment to optometry throughout his career. His love and commitment to the College is matched only by his vast experience in the field of optometry. He brings diverse and relevant experience nationally and internationally within academia and industry. We are fortunate and extremely pleased to have Dr. Howard Purcell as our new President.”

About New England College of Optometry

New England College of Optometry is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. NECO was founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, and is the oldest continuously operating school of optometry in the United States. NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences.   Through a vast network of clinical affiliations, our students put patient care first, providing vision care to children, older adults, the homeless, and individuals with disabilities through our work in our school programs, community programs, community health centers, and VA medical centers.

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