March 26, 2014

SUNY Empire State College Inaugurates Merodie A. Hancock as its Fourth President

The Inauguration Theme “Re-emergence,” Highlights Hancock’s Career of Advocacy for the Re-emergence of Nontraditional Students

SUNY Empire State College President Merodie A. Hancock wearing her academic regalia and the official college medallion.

President Merodie A. Hancock wearing her academic regalia and the official college medallion. Photo/Gary Gold

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – March 27, 2014) The celebration marking the inauguration of Merodie A. Hancock culminated today when she received college’s official medallion from SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and formally became the fourth president of Empire State College.

“As I look around the room today, I see the faces of so many people who believe in the opportunities afforded by higher education and specifically in those afforded by our innovative and nontraditional college and, I will proudly say, the country’s gold standard for a rigorous, liberal arts, open education," Hancock told an audience of several hundred assembled for the occasion at The Saratoga Hilton.

“To the students, alumni, faculty, staff and other friends of Empire State College, I want to thank you for what you do each and every day to help us learn, teach, and continually improve as individuals and collectively as a college community,” said Hancock. “I am honored and humbled to share in this mission with each of you.”

“Merodie Hancock has been an outstanding leader for the faculty, staff and students at Empire State College, and a valuable partner for SUNY and New York State,” said Zimpher. “With its world-class degree offerings and flexible class schedule, Empire State College has become a top choice for nontraditional and adult students. As the college continues to build upon its excellent reputation and service, we are fortunate to have Merodie at the helm. Congratulations to Merodie and the entire campus community.”

Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall and Empire State College Council Chairman James Lytle assisted the chancellor at the ceremony.

“Congratulations to Merodie Hancock on becoming the college’s fourth president and to all those at Empire State College who will continue to benefit from her exceptional leadership,” said McCall. “On behalf of my colleagues on the SUNY Board of Trustees, I offer Merodie and the entire campus community our appreciation and full support as Empire State College continues its impeccable service to students, faculty, and staff in every region of the state.”

“Merodie Hancock was found to be the best possible individual to lead SUNY Empire State College during our search process and has proven to be that leader over these nine months in that role,” said Lytle, who chaired the college’s Presidential Search Committee. “The inauguration by the college of Merodie is a historic moment because it serves to focus the entire college community on what promises to be a bright future for the college. Together with the members of the Empire State College Council, I look forward to working with Merodie in the years to come as Empire State College continues to be a leader in New York state and throughout the nation in accessible, high-quality higher education.”

"Like most nontraditional students, I came to a crossroads in my life”, said inauguration speaker Sandra Barkevich ’13, a current student at the college’s School for Graduate Studies. “Do I settle for a job I loved, but had no room for advancement unless I had a Bachelor's Degree, or do I set my sights higher and aim for that degree? I'm not unique. Every day, people just like me are coming to their own crossroads. Empire State College offers so much more than a solid education and though many of us study at a distance, there's a level of connectedness that feels like family. Dr. Hancock understands that this college is more than a place to gain a degree. She shares the same level of commitment to the students."

“Dr. Hancock, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome you to an educational institution that shares your values for excellence, collaboration and compassion along with a commitment to helping each and every student create an educational journey that will support their goals and dreams – now and for a lifetime,” said Cynthia Bates, a faculty mentor in the arts and recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, who spoke on behalf of the college community. “You have marked your first year with us by listening deeply to our ideas, concerns and questions. Your profound desire to learn about the Empire State College community has inspired us and your appreciation for the value of our past experiences, as well as our dreams for the future is assuring. The pedagogy of your heart is indeed aligned with the heart of our college. In summary, thank you. Your engagement with us has included important attributes of the faculty-student mentoring model practiced at the college.”

The Schenectady Pipe Band Ensemble and nearly 200 college faculty, staff and distinguished guests dressed in full academic regalia led Hancock, McCall, Zimpher and Lytle from the robing area at the Saratoga Music Hall, in City Hall, down Broadway and to the Hilton for the formal ceremony.


The inauguration theme “re-emergence,” highlights Hancock’s career of advocacy for the re-emergence of nontraditional students and the re-emergence of Empire State College as the exemplar of open, public and innovative education.

“The concept of re-emergence expresses our mission, strategy and tactics in educating and mentoring our nontraditional students,” said Hancock. “To continually learn is to continually re-emerge and build upon our promise. Our students come to us because they are ready to embark on an expanded professional or personal path. Through learning with their faculty mentors, their world views and professional knowledge develop and they re-emerge as more powerful people. As a public college we are much like the students we serve, we also continually seek education to grow and expand our own societal impact.”

In her inauguration remarks Hancock also said, “Like so many of our adult students and millions of prospective adult and other nontraditional students seeking a college degree, we are indeed at a period of re-emergence. We must challenge the status quo and question what we do, why we do it and how we can re-emerge as a stronger, more effective asset for the SUNY, the state and most importantly the students the college serves.”

Hancock said the college will lead the nation in building nontraditional educational opportunities that tie the long-term value of the college’s liberal arts education with the immediate professional needs of students. She presented a framework with specific initiatives, which will help faculty, staff, alumni and all friends of the college expand access, degree completion and overall student success.

Re-emergence: Highlights of Hancock’s Remarks

Initiatives cited by Hancock that will help drive the re-emergence of the college include:

  • remapping the student experience with all aspects of the college to ensure the right services are provided at the right time to better drive student success
  • advocating for additional state resources to increase student access through enhanced virtual and online-enabled learning and to better respond to student demand for extended support
  • accelerating degree completion by developing competency-based programs, expanding the evaluation of learning gained through work and life experience for college credit and through building clear pathways for dual admission and transfer programs
  • streamlining administrative functions in order to invest in the faculty and student services that more directly support students
  • upgrading the college’s video conference hubs to bring together public and private sectors and link learning opportunities across New York and around the globe.

Hancock succeeds Alan R. Davis, who served from Aug. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2012.  Joseph B. Moore, who served as the college’s president from 2000-07, and James W. Hall, the college’s founding president, preceded Davis.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY System from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)