This article is a part of a series that examines the background of the University of Notre Dame’s board of trustees, a group composed both of laypersons and Holy Cross priests. Since 1967, the trustees have been charged with the general governance of the university, with the exception of certain powers reserved for the university fellows. They meet regularly throughout the academic year, operating under the following 13 committees: the Executive Committee, the Governance and Nominating Committee, the Academic and Faculty Affairs Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Investment Committee, the Finance Committee, the University Relations/Public Affairs and Communication Committee, the Committee on Social Values and Responsibilities, the Audit Committee, the Committee on Athletic Affairs, the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee, the Compensation Committee, and the International Facilities Committee.

The main underwriter and namesake of the new Purcell Pavilion, Philip J. Purcell III, is also an elected member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees.  Purcell, the former CEO and Chairman of Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter, is currently the head of Continental Investors, LLC, a small private equity firm.

Purcell, who starred as center on his high school basketball team, provided the leadership gift of $12.5 million to help make the $25 million renovation of the Joyce Center possible.  The Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center was named in his honor.

Purcell is an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, earning his bachelor’s in business administration in 1964 before obtaining his MBA at the University of Chicago in 1966.  Purcell also achieved an MS in the London School of Economics one year later, before joining McKinsey & Co., an international management consulting firm.

By the time Purcell had left to join Sears in 1978, he had become the youngest head of a major office in McKinsey & Co’s history.  At Sears, Purcell became the senior vice president for corporate administration and planning, where he played a major role in the acquisition of Dean Witter Reynolds in 1981.

Five years later, Purcell was named the chairman and CEO of Dean Witter and led its spin-off from Sears in 1993.  During this period, the Discover credit card, which was owned and operated by Sears and then Dean Witter, developed and became widely popular due to its innovative lack of annual fees.

While at the helm of Dean Witter, Purcell supervised the merger between Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley, before he became the chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in 1997.  During his tenure at Morgan Stanley, Purcell led the company to its best competitive ratings in the history of the firm, ranking number one or two in most categories.  He also was CEO during the 9-11 tragedy, when 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 3,700 World Trade Center employees were killed during the attack.

Purcell eventually resigned after a tumultuous three months in which he faced some criticism of his leadership abilities.

Since his resignation, Purcell founded Continental Investors LLC, and participates in several philanthropic endeavors benefiting parochial schools and medical research.  He also has contributed significantly to the University of Notre Dame and to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where he established the Distinguished Fellows Program to provide support to top students.  Purcell has 7 children and currently resides in Park City, Utah.

Unfortunately, The Rover’s efforts to contact Purcell were unsuccessful.

Stephen Wandor is a junior aerospace engineer and resides in Siegfried Hall.  Feel free to contact (but really please don’t) at