Raimondo Appoints Purcell and Thompson to the New England Board of Higher Education


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Gina M. Raimondo has appointed Commissioner James E. Purcell, Ph.D. and Naomi R. Thompson, Esq. to the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).

«Education is the ladder to the middle class and here in Rhode Island we need to do everything possible to prepare our young students to compete in the 21st century economy,» said Governor Raimondo. «NEBHE provides us with incredible expertise and a forum to share and learn from our neighboring states. I am confident that Commissioner Purcell and Naomi Thompson will do a great job representing Rhode Island and I thank them for their service.»

«NEBHE has been a strong visionary and leader in creating change throughout New England higher education,» said Commissioner Purcell. «I am honored to join their board, and I look forward to contributing to their work.»

«I look forward to working with the other Rhode Island delegates and leaders in New England to tackle the higher education issues our region faces today,» said Ms. Thompson. «It is a tremendous honor to be nominated by Governor Raimondo to serve on the NEBHE.»

Appointed in 2014, Purcell is the Rhode Island Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. Before becoming Commissioner in Rhode Island, he served in similar capacities in Louisiana and Arkansas, and prior to that as the Chief Planning and Research Officer for Higher Education in Oklahoma. Originally from Alabama, Purcell holds a B.S. in Public Administration from Auburn University, a M.Ed. in counseling from the University of Montevallo, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.

Thompson is the Associate Vice President for the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity at the University of Rhode Island, and she serves as a member of the President’s Executive Team. Before joining URI in 2012, Thompson was Associate Director of Northeastern University’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, where she also served as the Title IX and Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator. Thompson earned her law degree from Suffolk University and a B.A. in philosophy and religion from Colgate University. A former civil and criminal litigation attorney, she was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1992 and the U.S. District Court in 1993.

Purcell and Thompson will be replacing The Honorable Daniel P. Connors, former Senate Majority Leader, and The Honorable Robert A. Weygand, former Congressman and Lieutenant Governor, whose terms have ended.

«I also want to thank Daniel Connors and Robert Weygand for their dedication to the state while serving on NEBHE, and I wish them the very best,» added Raimondo.

The NEBHE promotes greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England. They work with representatives from all six New England states to engage and assist leaders in sound education practices; promote programs and best practices for the region as well as assist in regional cooperation and sharing of educational resources; and provide leadership to build an even stronger relationship between higher education and the economic well-being of New England.