Empire State College on Thursday inaugurated its fourth president -- Merodie A. Hancock, a former administrator in charge of online learning at Central Michigan University.

Hancock, 46, received a medal from SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher during a ceremony in Saratoga Springs. The SUNY board of trustees unanimously approved Hancock's appointment last May.

Zimpher called Hancock an "outstanding leader for the faculty, staff and students at Empire State College, and a valuable partner for SUNY and New York State."

Empire State College is part of the State University of New York system. The mostly online college was established in 1971 for nontraditional college students and adult learners.

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About 2,350 students on Long Island currently are enrolled in Empire State's associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs. The college has 35 locations across the state, including Old Westbury, Hauppauge and Riverhead.

The school's total enrollment is about 20,000. The average age for undergraduates is 35; for graduate programs, it is 40.

At Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Hancock was responsible for the delivery of academic programs for the school's remote campuses, military and community college locations as well as online programs.

Hancock succeeds Alan R. Davis, who resigned in August 2012 to take the presidency of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. Meg Benke, the college's provost, served as acting president before Hancock took the helm last July.