President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program to Deliver SAR Commencement Address

oconnor300President of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program James O’Connell, PhD, will deliver the 2014 commencement address at Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College.

Dr. O’Connell co-established the nation’s first medical respite program for homeless persons in September, 1985, with 25 beds in the Lemuel Shattuck Shelter. That same year, he began full-time clinical work with homeless individuals as the founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), which now serves more than 12,000 homeless persons each year in two hospital-based clinics and more than 70 shelters and outreach sites throughout Boston.

From 1989 until 1996, Dr. O’Connell served as the National Program Director of the Homeless Families Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Working with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Laboratory of Computer Science, Dr. O’Connell designed and implemented the nation’s first computerized medical record for a homeless program.

Dr. O’Connell has received numerous awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award in 2012 and The Trustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of MGH in 2011. He is currently an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the editor of The Health Care of Homeless Persons: A Manual of Communicable Diseases in Shelters and on the Streets.

Dr. O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and received his master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University in 1972.  After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1982, he served as a resident in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The BU Sargent College commencement will take place Sunday, May 18 at 9 a.m. The ceremony will be followed by the All-University Commencement at 1 p.m. For more information about commencement activities at Boston University, visit our commencement page.