Thurber, longtime leader at TESU, announces retirement

Founding director of Watson Institute for Public Policy also was VP for public affairs, EVP for foundation

John P. Thurber, vice president for public affairs and executive vice president for the Thomas Edison State University Foundation, has announced his intention to retire this fall. He has served in both roles since January 1996.

Prior to his appointment as vice president for public affairs, Thurber became the founding executive director of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy and its predecessor, the Trenton Office of Policy Studies, at the institution in 1991.

Thomas Edison State University President Merodie Hancock said Thurber has made a great impact at the school and in the community.

“Under John’s 30-year stewardship, the university has made significant strides in the areas of public affairs and institutional advancement,” she said. “The university’s community profile and impact in the region has also grown substantially.”

Thurber has had leadership roles at organizations such as the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Mercer County Improvement Authority, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and the Trenton Downtown Association.

Thurber said he was grateful for the opportunities he has had.

“It has been a great privilege to have served our students, our community and our region as vice president for public affairs of Thomas Edison State University,” he said. “Advancing the mission of the university to transform the lives of adult students has been deeply rewarding, and I am grateful to Dr. Hancock and the university and foundation’s exceptional leadership team for this opportunity.”

Thurber has been instrumental in the growth of philanthropic support for the university through the TESU Foundation, including his collaboration on securing Wells Fargo’s donation of a historic mural by N.C. Wyeth valued at $4 million, as well as his work with former university President George A. Pruitt to secure a $2 million endowment from Gary and Diane Heavin. During his tenure, the total assets of the TESU Foundation grew from $600,000 to more than $12 million to support the university’s strategic priorities.

In his previous role at the Watson Institute, Thurber was responsible for the growth of the university’s public service and partnership roles in providing policy research and analysis for the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, the city of Trenton and a variety of other partners. He is a recipient of the Champion for Business Award from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Shining Star Award from the American Cancer Society as well as the Program Development Award from the Leadership New Jersey Graduate Organization.

The university has begun a nationwide search for Thurber’s replacement. Information about that search can be found here.