Francesca Purcell is a senior lecturer on education and the faculty director of the Higher Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).
Prior to her arrival at HGSE, Purcell was the program director for education and the development of knowledge at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences overseeing educational policy and research activity including a multi-year, national study with leaders in education, business, and government entitled The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America.
She formerly served as provost/chief academic officer at Massachusetts Bay Community College providing leadership across three campuses enrolling over 8,000 students. Purcell also served as associate commissioner for Academic and P-16 Policy for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education where she engineered public policy on college completion, student transfer, developmental education, and performance-based student financial aid and oversaw the review of new academic programs and newly-established colleges and universities. She is the recipient of the Governor's Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance in recognition of her contributions to public higher education. Purcell has held adjunct faculty positions at Boston College, Suffolk University, and Roxbury Community College and has co-authored works on international women’s colleges and universities. She has consulted for the World Bank and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation National Fellowship Foundation.
Purcell holds a B.A. from Amherst College, a M.S. from Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. from Boston College.