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Inauguration of Merodie Anne Hancock, PhD

Meet Dr. Hancock

Dr. Merodie HancockDr. Merodie A. Hancock serves as the fourth president of Thomas Edison State University, having assumed office March 5, 2018, following an extensive national search.

She is a nationally recognized leader in the administration and delivery of innovative education programs for adult students. Access, success and completion make up Hancock's educational philosophy. Through decades of meaningful interaction with nontraditional learners, she says she knows empirically that education is the nexus through which one's capability is harnessed for positive personal and professional growth and societal impact. She has dedicated her career to serving a multitude of under-represented populations, including veterans and active-duty military members.

Prior to her election as president of Thomas Edison State University, she served as president of State University of New York Empire State College, where she was responsible for the operation of the school's 35 locations throughout New York, its worldwide online programs and eight international sites.

Previously, she served as vice president at Central Michigan University Global Campus and held administrative leadership and teaching positions at the University of Maryland University College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Dr. Hancock serves as a member of the Council of State Representatives and Emerging Technology Task Force for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, as well as the New Jersey Presidents' Council. She is a member of the board of directors for Choose New Jersey, Greater Trenton, Inc., New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, NJEdge, and the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce.

She previously served on the board of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, Inside Track Advisory Board, the Distance Education Commission Advisory Group for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services (past president), United Way of Isabella County (Michigan), United Way of Greater Capital District (New York), and Special Olympics Michigan. She has served in active roles at the American Council on Education, Council of College and Military Educators, League for Innovation, and as a member of the National Commission on Online Learning Benchmarking Study.

As an external reviewer for several universities, she has participated in numerous self-studies, reports and evaluation visits for regional accreditors, the Department of Defense, state-approving agencies and specialized accrediting organizations. She speaks widely on such topics as strategic partnerships, pricing models, and innovative teaching best practices at professional conferences and meetings.

Dr. Hancock holds a PhD in urban services and education administration from Old Dominion University, an MBA from Claremont Graduate University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Scripps College. She holds certificates from the Institute of Educational Management, Harvard University and the University Professional Continuing Education Association Leadership Academy, New York University; a certificate in Process Design and Implementation: Reengineering and Change Management from Michael Hammer and Company; and a certificate in Nonprofit Board Leadership from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University, Michigan.

Hear from Dr. Hancock in her own words

Inauguration Speaker

Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson Coleman, a long-time and influential advocate for the people of New Jersey, is currently serving her sophomore term in the United States Congress. Prior to her election as Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly.

The daughter of legendary state legislator John S. Watson, Watson Coleman has continued a family legacy of public service fighting for women, economically and socially disadvantaged populations, and other vulnerable groups in our society. Watson Coleman shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Her election to the House of Representatives makes her the first Black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress.

Watson Coleman has led the call for reforms to prisoner re-entry programs, fighting tirelessly to shut the revolving door of recidivism for individuals who have returned from incarceration. During her time as Majority Leader, Watson Coleman convened a year-long series of public hearings on the topic while shepherding legislation through the New Jersey Assembly that The New York Times called “a model for the rest of the nation,” on prisoner rehabilitation and release.

For her second term, as a member of the 115th Congress, Watson Coleman was selected by her colleagues as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, where she is also Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security.  She also serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Watson Coleman has championed legislation to protect vulnerable Americans and communities related to gun safety, environmental protection, and long-term unemployment. Watson Coleman is the author of the Healthy MOM Act, which would allow women to enroll in, or change their health coverage if they become pregnant, the End For-Profit Prisons Act, which would prohibit the federal government from contracting with for-profit prison corporations and, the SAFER Pipelines Act that would reform the gas pipeline approval process overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In 2016, Watson Coleman, alongside two of her colleagues, founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, the first House caucus to study policy issues related to the continued success and accomplishments of that population. Watson Coleman is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. 

Watson Coleman graduated from Thomas Edison State College and received honorary doctorate degrees from The College of New Jersey, Rider University and Stockton University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and co-chair of the Girl Scouts of America Capitol Hill Honorary Troop.

Watson Coleman and her husband William reside in Ewing Township and are blessed to have three sons; William, Troy, and Jared and three grandchildren; William, Kamryn and Ashanee.

Delegate and Special Guest Information

Thomas Edison State University is honored to welcome distinguished representatives of higher education institutions and other special guests to the inauguration of Merodie A. Hancock, PhD, the University’s fourth president.

Representatives of academic institutions are cordially invited to march in the Inaugural Procession on September 29, 2018. Delegates are requested to provide their own academic regalia.

Schedule of Events

All events take place at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ.

11:30 a.m.

1:30 p.m.

2 p.m.

2:30 p.m.

President’s Luncheon for Delegates and Special Guests

Delegate Robing for the Inaugural Procession

Inaugural Procession Begins

Inauguration ceremony concludes, followed immediately by the University’s 46th Annual Commencement Ceremony

Parking and Directions

The Cure Insurance Arena is located on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and South Broad Street in Trenton, NJ and is also accessible via Route 129 and Hamilton Avenue in Trenton. Ample, secure parking is available on site. Parking and Directions Information »


Hyatt Regency Princeton

A block of rooms has been reserved for VIP guests on September 28 and 29 at a discounted rate of $145 per night. Please reference Thomas Edison State University when making your reservation. Kindly reserve your room by August 24, 2018.

Hyatt Regency Princeton
102 Carnegie Center
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
Phone: (609) 987-1234

Best Wishes for Dr. Hancock

Please use the form below to leave a special note for Dr. Hancock.

Fill out my online form.

Past Presidents

Learn more about President Hancock's three predecessors and their roles in shaping Thomas Edison State University.

Dr. James D. Brown: 1972-1978
Dr. James D. Brown
Read more »
Dr. Larraine R. Matusak: 1979-1982
Dr. Larraine R. Matusak
Read more »
Dr. George A. Pruitt: 1982-2018
Dr. George A. Pruitt
Read more »

1972: It was a very good year!

  • Home Box Office, better known today as HBO, became the first premium cable television subscription service in the country. Before that, most homes only had access to network and public access television.
  • The Space Transportation System, better known today as the Space Shuttle program, was formally launched. Before that, space travel had been limited to cumbersome rockets and capsules that could be not be reused.
  • Hewlett-Packard, better known today as HP, introduced the first scientific, hand-held calculator. Before that, the only portable, hand-held device that could perform trigonometric and exponential functions was a slide rule.

Also in 1972, Edison College, known today as Thomas Edison State University, was established by the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education. Before that, no institution quite like it had ever existed.

According to the resolution establishing the school, Edison College was created to “…enable individuals to receive academic recognition for skills and knowledge acquired in a variety of ways and would permit New Jersey residents to complete part or all of their work toward a baccalaureate or associate degree without formal attendance at a campus.”

History of Thomas Edison State University



  • Edison College is established, named after the famous New Jersey inventor who gained extensive knowledge in several technical subject areas without attending college classes.
  • Dr. James D. Brown is named director.


  • The institution opens its doors to the public in a second-floor office in the McShain Building, located at 1750 N. Olden Ave., in Ewing, N.J.


  • The first student enrolls.



  • The Board of Trustees is established.


  • The board holds its first meeting at the Nassau Inn in Princeton, N.J.
  • The board appoints Dr. James D. Brown as the school’s first president.
  • The board also changes the school’s name to Thomas A. Edison College.
  • On June 15, Thomas Edison holds its first Commencement ceremony at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, N.J. The first class includes 70 graduates who earn Associate in Arts degrees.


  • Dr. Arnold Fletcher is named as the school’s first vice president. He would serve as acting president on two separate occasions in 1978 and 1982.



  • The first Academic Council is appointed to ensure academic integrity of all academic programs and credit assessments.


  • The Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP®) is established.
  • Thomas Edison becomes a founding member of the Cooperative Assessment of Experiential Learning, precursor to the Council on the Assessment of Experiential Learning (CAEL). The cooperative would develop improved methods in the assessment of experiential learning, which become the standards that govern many of today’s prior learning assessment programs.



  • Thomas Edison awards its first baccalaureate degrees: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.



  • The Thomas A. Edison State College Foundation for Nontraditional Education, Inc. is founded as a component part of the institution.


  • Thomas Edison moves to the Forrestal Campus in Princeton, N.J.



  • The institution earns full accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.



  • Dr. Larraine R. Matusak is named Thomas Edison’s second president.


  • The institution moves into the historic Kelsey Building in Trenton, N.J.



  • The N.J. State Board of Higher Education approves the school’s new name to Thomas A. Edison State College.



  • Thomas Edison completes a major reorganization creating three divisions headed by vice presidents.



  • The first independent study course is launched, a precursor to Guided Study courses.


  • Dr. George A. Pruitt becomes Thomas Edison’s third president.



  • The Foundation is restructured as the Thomas A. Edison State College Foundation, Inc., an independent, charitable organization benefitting the College.



  • The Center for Learning and Telecommunications is established, forerunner to the Center for Directed Independent Adult Learning (DIAL).



  • The New Jersey Legislature approves state college autonomy, empowering Thomas Edison and eight other senior public institutions to control resources and daily operations.
  • The N.J. Board of Higher Education awards Thomas Edison a three-year $1.8 million challenge grant to create a network that will enable students to access services and courses via a computer network, known as the Computer Assisted Lifelong Learning (CALL) Network.



  • The first courses using the CALL Network are launched to students; courses are known as Guided Study on CALL courses and are a precursor to online courses. These courses were made available to all students by 1990.



  • Thomas Edison holds the first National Institute on the Assessment of Experiential Learning as a resource for educators interested in the learning the best practices of assessing adult and experiential learning.


  • The RN to BSN program receives initial accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.



  • The Trenton Office of Policy Studies is launched, forerunner to the Institute of Public Policy, which was created in 1995.



  • The Foundation hosts its first Gala at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, N.J.
  • The institution awards a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology degree to Thomas Alva Edison 61 years after the great inventor’s death. Edison’s great-grandson accepts the degree on his behalf.
  • Thomas Edison adds the Academic Center at 167 W. Hanover Street to its Trenton, N.J., campus.



  • Thomas Edison adds the Kuser Mansion at 315 W. State Street to its Trenton, N.J., campus.



  • The New York Times calls Thomas Edison "one of the brightest stars of higher learning."


  • Thomas Edison gains approval for its first graduate program, the Master of Science in Management.


  • The Foundation awards the first Spirit of Edison Awards.


  • The On-Line Computer Classroom is introduced, enabling students with a computer and modem to take classes via the CALL Network.



  • The New Jersey State Library is made an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College.
  • The award-winning townhouse preservation project begins, which will restore five historic townhouses on West State Street.
  • The Institute for Public Policy is renamed to honor the outstanding record of public service of the late N.J. Assemblyman John S. Watson, the nation’s first African American chairman of an appropriations committee.
  • The Institute establishes a partnership with the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association to provide public policy and research support to New Jersey mayors.



  • Forbes magazine recognizes Thomas Edison as one of the top 20 institutions in the country to use technology to create learning opportunities for adults.


  • Blackboard is implemented as the institution’s learning management system for all online courses.


  • Thomas Edison is one of only 60 institutions in the country selected by PBS as a partner in the "Going the Distance" program where students can earn a degree through courses televised on PBS stations.


  • Thomas Edison partners with the University of South Africa to share resources and expertise and explore the development of new programs.



  • Thomas Edison is selected by the U.S. Navy as a participating institution in its Navy College Rating Partnership Program.



  • Thomas Edison is selected by the U.S. Army’s University Access Online Program.


  • The Martinson Family Foundation awards the Foundation a $125,000 grant to develop the first interactive, online undergraduate courses that utilize flash technology. The courses earn Thomas Edison a Telly Award for outstanding achievement in video and film production.


  • Thomas Edison announces a major academic restructuring with the establishment of schools led by deans that will lead the academic enterprise of the institution.
  • Gary and Diane Heavin make a landmark $2 million gift to establish the Gary and Diane Heavin Endowed Fund and the Heavin School of Social and Behavioral Sciences is named in their honor.
  • The Canal Banks Building is opened at 221 W. Hanover Street in Trenton.


  • The School of Nursing launches its Diversity in Nursing program to recruit and prepare minority nurse educators after being awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resource and Services Administration.


  • Sun National Bank becomes the first company to enroll in Corporate Choice® program, which maximizes tuition assistance programs for businesses and organizations.


  • Thomas Edison launches the Alumni Ambassador Program, which invites graduates to help identify and develop relationships with potential students, donors and businesses.


  • UPS enrolls in the Corporate Choice® program, becoming the first major international corporation to participate in the program.


  • Thomas Edison launches the Mobile Learning Initiative and pilots the FlashTrack® course delivery format and an online proctoring service; funding is provided by the Foundation.
  • The RN to BSN/MSN receives initial accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation.



  • Thomas Edison is selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a participating institution in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program.


  • Thomas Edison received a $250,000 competitive FIPSE grant from the Department of Education for the FlashTrack initiative.


  • The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership is granted initial accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.



  • The School of Nursing is named in honor of the late W. Cary Edwards for the instrumental role he played in the 1980s to help establish a nursing program at the College.
  • State leaders decide not to move forward with a proposal to merge the College with Rutgers University.


  • Thomas Edison receives a $5.1 million federal grant to support the New Jersey State Library’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, which added computer workstations, upgrade internet connectivity and provide job search assistance and workforce development programs at libraries throughout New Jersey.


  • Thomas Edison and The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy receive a $240,000 federal grant to conduct an economic analysis of a region that comprises 19 urban municipalities in New Jersey to help create sustainable economic growth.



  • Thomas Edison is awarded the 2011 Distance Education Innovation Award by the National University Technology Network for development of the FlashTrack® course delivery system.
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s 2010 candidate performance report indicates that the Thomas Edison’s graduates have the highest pass rates for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination among all regionally accredited senior institutions of higher education in New Jersey that offer accounting programs.



  • The associate degree program and undergraduate certificate in polysomnography is awarded initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
  • Major renovations begin on Kuser Mansion, which Thomas Edison purchased in 2008.


  • The first graduates of the Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Program earn a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).


  • The New York Times calls Thomas Edison the "college that paved the way for flexibility."


  • Thomas Edison and The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy receive a federal $320,000 grant to create a comprehensive economic development strategy for 19 urban municipalities in New Jersey.
  • Demolition begins on Glen Cairn Arms, a blighted, vacant building that Thomas Edison acquired from the city of Trenton.


  • The Martinson Family Foundation awards Thomas Edison a $450,000 grant to leverage the latest video and multimedia technology to create more interactive courses and develop a media creation studio.



  • The Center for the Assessment of Learning and the School of Business and Management partner to develop the Open Course Option, which enables students to complete an Associate in Science in Business Administration degree using free, open courses provided by the Saylor Foundation as well as TECEP® and other exam programs and portfolio assessment.


  • The Helene Fuld Health Trust awards Thomas Edison a $650,000 grant to fund scholarships for students enrolled in the Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Program.


  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selects Thomas Edison for its New Careers in Nursing Scholarship program, which supports underrepresented students in the accelerated BSN program.
  • Thomas Edison is named the anchor institution of the New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network (NJPLAN), a consortium of New Jersey colleges and universities that will allow their students to earn credit via prior learning assessment.


  • The Lumina Foundation selects Thomas Edison to explore ways to develop and scale a national business model that helps more nontraditional students leverage their prior learning and complete their college degrees.
  • Comcast partners with Thomas Edison, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Veteran Business Development Council to produce a national public service announcement aimed at helping veterans learn how to earn credits for military training to complete a college degree.
  • Thomas Edison is selected by the American Council on Education to join The Alternative Credit Project, a consortium of institutions working to create more flexible pathways for nontraditional students.
  • On Dec. 1, the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education granted university status to Thomas Edison State College.



  • The institution publically changes its name to Thomas Edison State University. University status was granted by the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education in early December 2015.


  • JetBlue announces the launch of its JetBlue Scholars Program and partnership with the University as the sole higher education provider for the program.


  • The University is selected as one of just eight institutions by the U.S. Department of Education as a site for the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) program, an experimental federal pilot program aimed at promoting, expanding and measuring college access, affordability and student outcomes.


  • The University opens Glen Cairn Hall, a 34,360-square-foot building that is home to the University’s W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and features state-of-the-art nursing simulation laboratories, lecture halls, conference rooms and the University’s student advising center.


  • The first cohort of the University’s first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, begin classes.
  • The U.S. Economic Development Administration approves a comprehensive economic development strategy coordinated by The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy focusing on 19 urban municipalities in New Jersey, opening up the possibility of federal funding investments for economic development projects in those towns and cities.



  • Dr. George A. Pruitt announces his plans to retire as president of the University after 35 years. The Board of Trustees begins a nationwide search to find the University’s next president.


  • The School of Business and Management earns accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) for its Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Management and Master of Science in Human Resources Management degree programs.


  • The University announces that Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president of SUNY Empire State College in New York, has been selected as the next president of Thomas Edison State University, following an extensive national search.



  • Dr. Merodie A. Hancock takes office as the University’s fourth president.
  • The PSEG Foundation awards a $200,000 grant to support a career enhancement initiative for military and veteran students and to support the advancement of science, technology, engineering and math courses at the University.
  • The University announces the formation of the Center for Leadership and Governance, which will focus on the development and guidance of emerging leaders as well as strengthening the effectiveness of those already serving in leadership positions. Upon leaving the presidency of the University, Dr. George A. Pruitt serves as board distinguished fellow at the center.


  • The inauguration of Dr. Hancock is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2018, in conjunction with the University’s 46th annual Commencement.


  • The University renames its Center for Learning and Technology to the ‘W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology’ in honor of the provost and vice president’s years of commitment to TESU and educational technologies that support adult learning.



  • The NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) awards The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University a $155,000 grant to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the DCA’s Urban Enterprise Zone program (UEZ).


  • Thomas Edison State University launches its second doctoral program, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with courses that begin in January.
  • Thomas Edison offers 3+1 Bachelor Degrees to NJ Community College students, allowing them to transfer up to 90 community college credit.


  • Thomas Edison State University receives $100K Signature Grant from The Provident Bank Foundation to program promotes experiential learning as TESU’s nontraditional and distance-learning adult students support New Jersey nonprofit organizations in the form of 12-week Capstone Projects.
  • Graduates of Thomas Edison State University’s April 2018-2019 Accelerated Program cohort achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).


  • Wells Fargo donates historic N.C. Wyeth Painting, largest gift in the University’s history.



  • TESU becomes innovative partner providing college credit for edX’s MicroBachelors® Programs, a novel undergraduate-level credential.


  • TESU staff is moved to working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The University held its first virtual Commencement ceremony and helped the Class of 2020 celebrate by mailing Commencement Celebration Boxes with items that have previously been given exclusively to graduates who attend a TESU Commencement in person.
  • TESU Foundation hosts the 29th Annual Grande Ball 2020 virtually.