Michael Merrill earned his Ph.D. in history and economics at Columbia University in 1985. He has taught at Rutgers and Princeton and been a senior administrator at the National Labor College and SUNY Empire State College. He is currently completing a history of the capitalism and inequality in the U.S.
Dr. Merrill is a nationally respected labor educator and historian who has been involved in the New Jersey labor movement for many years. He returns to Rutgers, where he worked from 1986-1998, after having served since 2004 as Dean of The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College in New York City.
During his first decade at Rutgers, Dr. Merrill helped pioneer a rank-and-file worker trainer approach to health & safety education for the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW), which is now part of the United Steelworkers' national education program. He also adapted the same innovative approach to education and training programs still being offered by the Rutgers Occupational Training & Education Consortium (OTEC).
In 1998, Charles Wowkanech, who had just been elected president of the New Jersey State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), named Dr. Merrill its first Director of Education and Training. In that role, he advised local unions on education and training issues and helped New Jersey local and regional labor bodies secure Youth Transition to Work grants from the New Jersey Department of Education. He also worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO to implement the 1998 Workforce Investment Act.
In 2002, Dr. Merrill was recruited to direct the national AFL-CIO's George Meany Archives in Silver Spring, MD, and to be an Assistant Provost at the new National Labor College (NLC). At the NLC, he led the self-study team responsible for securing the accreditation of the George Meany Center for Labor Studies as a nationally-recognized degree-granting institution.
Two years later, Dr. Merrill left the NLC to become the Dean of the Van Arsdale Center, which he transformed into a flourishing academic center. Its students' writing is collected annually in an award-winning anthology, Labor Writes, and its graduates have won SUNY Chancellor Awards for Student Excellence 5 out of the last 6 years.
Dr. Merrill has also written a number highly regarded essays on U.S. economic and labor history, including "The Anticapitalist Origins of the United States" (1990), "Trust in Training: The OCAW Worker-to-Worker Education Program" (1998), "The Promise of Service Worker Unionism" (with Dorothy Sue Cobble) (2009), and "How Capitalism Got its Name" (2014).
In addition to his duties as LEARN Director, he will also teach at least once a year in the university's regular academic programs.