2020 – The Year in Review

A look back at some of the noteworthy highlights from the past year.

A Message from the President

Headshot photo of Howard Purcell in blue collared shirt and dark suit.2020 is a year we’ll never forget. We looked forward to celebrating the Year of Optometry, with 20/20 puns and all.

Instead it turned into the year of COVID-19 and all its challenges. We met those challenges exceptionally well, working together, and we’re proud of that. We jumped into action quickly to pioneer and deliver high-quality education and patient care in a pandemic, and we haven’t looked back.

And yet at NECO, 2020 will be remembered for so much more than our COVID-19 response. As I look back, I’m amazed at the many achievements during the year – many positives we all created as we endured and triumphed over those challenges. A few are outlined below.

We couldn’t have done it without the support of the NECO community of students and employees. We couldn’t have done it without the many alumni and industry partners who continue to support NECO and the greater field of optometry. To all of you, we send our thanks, respect, and deepest gratitude. Here’s to the year to come.

All the best,
Howard

Noteworthy 2020

  • The NECO Strategic Plan 2020-2025 was adopted and put into action immediately. Progress has been made on all fronts of the seven overarching goals poised to keep NECO at the forefront of optometry education.
  • NECO committed to an expanded Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging effort, starting with naming Dr. Angela Abraham as the first DEI&B Liaison and the creation of internal and external advisory groups to ensure best practices and on-campus experiences are considered. NECO was the first business and only optometry school to sign on to the 13% Promise with Black Eyecare Perspectives, an initiative to increase diversity in optometry.
  • NECO received gifts totaling more than $900k, including gifts establishing three new scholarships. Eyewear brand Warby Parker established a first-of-its-kind scholarship fund with the goal of increasing Black representation in the field of optometry. Two subsequent major gifts also created diversity scholarships.
  • Faculty and staff surmounted the challenge of COVID-19, moving clinical training and courses online to ensure student progression toward graduation. The effort included adoption of innovations for monitoring best practices, contact tracing, symptom tracking, and cleaning methods. NECO has low numbers of cases and is often tapped by organizations seeking insights into such a response.
  • NECO Center for Eye Care launched telehealth visits within two days of the COVID-19 shut-down, ensuring priority for eye health was upheld during the crisis. A Dry Eye Clinic was added to the list of specialty services in 2020 as well.
  • Academic Affairs and the faculty have begun the important task of curriculum mapping, which will pair the content taught throughout our curriculum with program goals and national board expectations. This is the first step in an ongoing process that enables us to maintain a contemporary curriculum that reflects and anticipates our evolving profession.
  • A new Low Vision Residency was added to the 41 residency positions offered by NECO, one of only six of its kind in the country. NECO remains a top provider of optometry residencies, accounting for nearly 10% of the roughly 500 post-grad optical residencies across the country.
  • Faculty had several notable research grants and publications. NECO’s FY2020 total direct funding totaled $711,987 which included 4 NIH and several agency grants. Faculty had 13 peer-reviewed journal articles published and 14 scientific posters/presentations accepted.
  • The NECO Innovation Center had 11 projects with industry, including testing products, validation studies, consulting on strategy, brainstorming ideas, grant application, and roundtable discussions.
  • NECO continued to set the bar for national outreach with much-needed programs about telehealth and COVID-19 practices. The series of 8 programs attracted a total of 4,000 plus attendees from 41 states and 5 countries. A Myopia Management program attracted attendees from around the globe as well.
  • Advocacy efforts in concert with Massachusetts Society of Optometrists helped pass a bill expanding the scope of practice that allows optometrists to prescribe topical medications for the treatment of glaucoma and to have authority to prescribe oral pharmaceutical agents.
  • Our Center for Academic and Professional Achievement (CAPA) is coming to fruition with its integrated approach to academic achievement and career development in addition to the already robust student services.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of NECO formalizing its relationship with Community Health Centers, a milestone that marks NECO’s innovative spirit and its influence on both the training model and the collaborative patient care and education relationship with ophthalmology.

2020 Financials

Leadership Donors

  • Boston Center for Blind Children
  • Lorraine J., Fedyna, OD
  • John R. McIntyre, OD
  • Brockton Lions Club
  • Stephen A. Feltus, OD
  • Andrew D. McLeod, OD, MS and Amy C. Nau, OD
  • Linda M. Bennett, OD
  • Ronald R. Ferrucci, OD
  • Robert Meenan, MD, MPH, MBA
  • Kristen Brown, OD
  • Alan N. Glazier, OD
  • Sandra Mohr, EdD
  • David Caban, OD
  • William J. Gleason, OD
  • National Vision, Inc.
  • Ronald Cedrone, OD
  • Kristen K. Griebel, OD
  • Rachel E. Negris, OD
  • John A. Child, OD
  • Richard M. Heller, Esq.
  • Howard B. Purcell, OD
  • Terry L. Chin, OD
  • Emil R. Horowitz, OD
  • Michelle F. Rahimian, OD
  • Gary Chu, OD, MPH
  • Arthur Jankolovits, OD
  • Robert N. Rosenstein, OD
  • Coca Cola, Foundation
  • Reginald H. Jones, OD
  • Clifford A. Scott, OD, MPH
  • James P. Comerford, OD, PhD
  • Benjamin D. Klibanoff, OD
  • U.S. Art Company, Inc.
  • CooperVision, Inc
  • Donald R. Korb, OD and Joan Exford, OD
  • Vision Service Plan
  • Elise F. D’Amiano, OD
  • Janet LaBreck
  • Warby Parker
  • Judith R. Darrow, OD
  • Alan L. Lewis, PhD, OD
  • Erik Weissberg, OD
  • Claudia C. Evans, OD
  • Loretta M. Li, OD
  • Pano Yeracaris, MD, MPH
  • Stephen A. Feltus, OD
  • Traci A. Logan
  • Joseph P. Zolner, EdD
  • Jonathan Marcus

Thank you to our corporate sponsors for supporting student programming on campus

Alcon Laboratories
CooperVision, Inc
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
Allergan USA, Inc.
Luxottica