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Optometry College Inaugurates President

He is the 13th person to serve in the role.

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New England College of Optometry has inaugurated Dr. Howard B. Purcell as its president.

Purcell is the 13th president in the college’s 125 year history, according to a press release from the institution. He is a graduate of the program, continuing the legacy of his father, Saul Purcell, who graduated in 1954.

Optometry College Inaugurates President

New England College of Optometry inaugurated Dr. Howard B. Purcell as its 13th president. Source: New England College of Optometry

The ceremony took place at the Edward Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston in a recreation of the U.S. Senate chamber. It was attended by over 200 people, including the president’s family, friends and former and current colleagues, student leaders, industry leaders and community representatives. Distinguished delegates included representatives from four optometry schools – Dr. Kevin Alexander (Marshall B. Ketchum University), Dr. Morris Berman (MCPHS), Dr. Mark Colip (Illinois College of Optometry) and Dr. David Heath (State University of New York College of Optometry).

Pano Yeracaris, MD, chairman of the board, said Purcell’s “enthusiasm, energy and commitment is matched by his vision and effectiveness as a leader.”

Cynthia P. Macdonald, great granddaughter of NECO founder August Klein, noted all the hats that Purcell must now wear.

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“I know that each one of those hats will be woven from threads of knowledge and competence, care and compassion, diversity and inclusivity, respect and integrity,” Macdonald said. “These are the shining threads that together create the tapestry of the many generations of NECO family. The Klein Family Legacy is now entrusted to your care, Dr. Purcell, and I have no doubt it will be well tended.”

Purcell stepped into the role on July 1, 2018. Over the past nine months, he “has become indelibly connected to the NECO community,” according to the release.

Student Council President Monica Luo, class of 2020, described his immediate immersion into NECO.

“For an institution that feels so strongly about the creation and nurturing of meaningful bonds and relationships, President Purcell is the perfect fit,” Luo said. “In just his first few months, he made every effort to be present everywhere and to speak to everyone. … For every individual, he is open to listening and providing support. He is always present and always receptive.”

Purcell outlined his strategic priorities for the college to help “prepare today’s optometrists for tomorrow’s optometry.” His vision includes diversifying revenue; nurturing diversity, equity and inclusion; expanding continuing education and specialized degree programs; collaborating with industry; and finding ways to “best support and prepare our students for whatever changes may arise,” according to the release.

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