Howard Purcell, OD

The New England College of Optometry board of trustees has named Howard Purcell, OD ’84, FAAO, Diplomate, as its 13th president and CEO. Purcell was selected following a national search to succeed Clifford Scott, OD, MPH, who will be stepping down after serving for nine years. Purcell will take office on July 2, 2018.

His appointment comes at the conclusion of a detailed selection process during which the search committ

ee met with a talented pool of candidates from around the country.  “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,” Purcell said. “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.”

A graduate of NECO’s class of 1984, Purcell brings a wealth of experience and success in many aspects of optometry. Throughout his career, he 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,” Purcell continued. “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. 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.”

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 & Johnson Vision Care 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 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.

Board chair Pano Yeracaris, MD, MPH, announced the selection of Purcell to the NECO community and stated, “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.”


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