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College Names Lori Q. Purcell as Chair of Mortuary Science Department

MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Bryant (518) 629-8072,
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

Lori Q. Purcell has been named chairperson for the Mortuary Science Department at Hudson Valley Community College.

Purcell, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the funeral business, began teaching as an adjunct at the college in 2005 and became a full-time faculty member in 2008. She has served as interim department chair since May 2015 and succeeds D. Elaine Reinhard, who retired in 2015.

Purcell earned her Mortuary Science associate degree from Hudson Valley in 1990 and her bachelor’s degree in human and community service from the University at Albany. She received her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in education.

She began her career at the Bowen Funeral Home in Latham and continued to work in the industry with the Parker Brothers Memorial Funeral Home until 2014.

A native of Newburgh, Purcell said she always knew she wanted to work in the funeral business. “I grew up between two funeral homes on either end of my street. I knew it was something I always wanted to do,” she said.

Purcell is one of a growing number of women who have entered what was once seen as a male-dominated profession. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), 57 percent of mortuary science students in the United States are women, and that number has been steadily growing over the past several decades. In the late 1970s, according to the NFDA, only 13 percent of students in similar programs were women.

Hudson Valley Community College’s Mortuary Science Department oversees more than 100 students in a two-year Mortuary Science associate of applied science degree, as well as approximately a dozen students in a one-year Bereavement Studies certificate program. Current students come from as far away as Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, and many take advantage of the online coursework offered by the department.

The Mortuary Science program is accredited by the American Bureau of Funeral Service Education.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 80 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has more than 75,000 alumni.

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