Peirce College, which largely serves adult learners in Philadelphia, has tapped a New Jersey college administrator as its new president.

Mary Ellen Caro, 64, currently serves as vice president of enrollment management and learner services at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, N.J., which also largely serves adults.

Caro, who has been at Edison since 2004 after a 25-year career in business, will replace James J. Mergiotti, who is retiring after nine years at the helm. She is the first female president in Peirce's 153-year history. She starts April 16.

Mary Ellen Caro, new president of Peirce College
Couresy of Peirce College
Mary Ellen Caro, new president of Peirce College

"Peirce College is an integral piece of the puzzle for workforce development and adult degree attainment in Philadelphia," Caro said. "I look forward to building on this 153-year legacy, and I am excited for the opportunity to collaborate with new partners throughout the region to benefit working adults, businesses, and the regional economy."

Edison has more than 17,000 students, compared with nearly 2,200 at Peirce. But Edison offers largely online learning, while Peirce offers a mix. The average age of students at Edison is 35, very similar to Peirce's 34.

"The thing that excites me also about Peirce is that it is in a vibrant city, Philadelphia," and all the opportunity for partnerships that provides, she said.

Caro, a native of Dunellen, N.J., who grew up in Somerset County, recently relocated to Doylestown. She got her bachelor's degree in mathematics and sociology from the College of St. Elizabeth, has a master's in management from Stanford University, a master's in applied statistics from Rutgers University, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

She worked at AT&T in various executive positions before being hired by Edison.

Peirce, which is private, did not release Caro's salary.