Howard Purcell Named President of NECO, Will Leave Essilor

Howard Purcell, O.D., FAAO, has been named the 13th president and CEO of The New England College of Optometry (NECO), effective July 2. He is leaving his post at Essilor, where he is currently senior vice president, customer development, at the end of June. Dr. Purcell succeeds Clifford Scott, O.D., MPH, who is stepping down after serving for nine years.
Dr. Purcell is a graduate of NECO’s Class of 1984 and brings a wealth of experience and success in many aspects of optometry. 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, the NECO Board of Trustees noted in a statement today.
“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, O.D., ’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. He is currently senior vice president of customer development for Essilor of America, where he has been a key member of the Essilor leadership team and Executive Committee for 10 years. At Essilor, he served as the professional face of the company and leading the customer development group through significant evolution and growth.

NECO Board of Trustees Chair Pano Yeracaris, M.D., MPH, 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.”