Subscribe to the IHARE Blog

State of New York State History

History and the New York State Regents

The New York State Board of Regents has overall responsibility for the history organizations in the state. The Department of Education which charters the museums and historical societies operates under the auspices of the Regents. Its purview includes the Office of Cultural Education: the New York State Archives, the New York State Library, and the New York State Museum where the New York State Historian is based. Most of the press coverage about the Regents concerns education especially such hot-button issues as curriculum and evaluations.

The Regents do not participate in the REDC funding process. It is responsible for the funding programs for archives.

The Regents meet monthly in Albany

January 14 – 15 (Monday and Tuesday)
February 11 – 12 (Monday and Tuesday)
March 11 – 12 (Monday and Tuesday)
April 8 – 9 (Monday and Tuesday)
May 6 – 7 (Monday and Tuesday)
June 3 – 4 (Monday and Tuesday)
July 15 – 16 (Monday and Tuesday)
August (Recess)
September 9 – 10 (Monday and Tuesday)
October 7 – 8 (Monday and Tuesday)
November 4 – 5 (Monday and Tuesday)
December 9 – 10 (Monday and Tuesday)

The Meeting Webcast link is available one-half hour prior to the scheduled start of the meeting. The January meeting is available at http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings. I do not know if the public can attend these meetings in person.

For the history community, the most relevant part of the Regents meetings are from the Cultural Education committee. That committee supervises archives, libraries, and museums in the state. Here are the portions of the committee report from the January meeting. The most critical item was the Governor’s veto of the Museum Education Act that MANY has been lobbying about for a few years now.

Report of Regents Cultural Education Committee to The Board of Regents

Your Committee on Cultural Education had its scheduled meeting on January 14, 2019. Regent Roger Tilles and Regent Judith Johnson, Co-Chairs of the Cultural Education Committee, submitted the following written report. In attendance were committee members: Regent Tilles, Co-Chair, Regent Johnson, Co-Chair, Regent Cea, Regent Cottrell, Regent Ouderkirk and Regent Mead.

Regents, in addition to Cultural Education Committee members, in attendance were: Chancellor Rosa, Regent Cashin, Regent Finn, Regent Hakanson, Regent Reyes, and Regent Mittler. Also in attendance were Commissioner Elia, Executive Deputy Commissioner Berlin, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Educational Policy Jhone Ebert, and Counsel Shannon Tahoe.

ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION

Co-Chairs Regent Tilles and Regent Johnson welcomed everyone. Regent Tilles informed the Committee that the Museum Education Act, a Regents legislative priority, was vetoed by the Governor last month. The primary reason cited in the veto message was that the bill should be addressed within the context of the budget. The legislation did not include the $5 million in funding that was requested in the Regents’ legislative priorities. Deputy Commissioner Schaming provided a brief report on Office of Cultural Education news and activities.

Based on a review of the 2018 reports, Schaming typically reports on the activities of the Archives, Library, and Museum each month as appropriate. The big topic for discussion in the January, 2019, meeting was library construction.

State Aid for Library Construction Update

Mary Anne Waltz and Frank Rees from the State Library’s Division of Library Development presented an update on the State Aid for Library Construction program, which has supported over 2,200 public library construction and renovation projects since its inception. In FY 2018-2019, the state budget provided $34 million in capital funds to support State Aid for Library Construction. Funds may support up to 75 percent of approved project costs for broadband installation or construction, renovation, rehabilitation, or site acquisition of public libraries and public library system headquarters.

Chair Mark Schaming submitted the following letter to the Regents.

TO: Cultural Education Committee
FROM: Mark Schaming
SUBJECT:     State Aid for Library Construction Program Update
DATE:             January 3, 2019
AUTHORIZATION(S): Mary Ellen Elia

SUMMARY

Issue for Discussion

State Library staff will present an update on the State Aid for Library Construction program, which has supported over 2,200 public library construction and renovation projects over the past 12 years. The Board will receive a brief overview of this program and its history and an update on plans for the 2019 program and beyond.

Background Information

In FY 2018-2019, the State Budget provided $34 million in capital funds to support State Aid for Library Construction. While the State Aid for Library Construction Program allocation formulas are in statute (Education Law 273-a), the annual funding level is not specified in the law. The funding level is determined annually through an appropriation of capital funds in the State Budget.

State Aid for Library Construction Program capital funds may support up to 75 percent of approved project costs for broadband installation or construction, renovation, rehabilitation, or site acquisition of public libraries and public library system headquarters. The State Library collaborates with the 23 public library systems in administering this program. Each library system ranks the applications from their system area and determines the funding level for each project. Particular attention is given to the service needs of any communities which are isolated, economically disadvantaged.

As previously reported in Did You Know that There Was a Regents Museum Advisory Council? (11/9/17), there is a Regents Museum Advisory Council. In that blog, I reported on its responsibilities as originally presented in 2012 when the council was first proposed. I also provided a list of its current members. In reviewing the online information available from the Regents website in 2018-2019 about the Advisory Council, the primary action involves appointments to fill vacancies. For example in June and December:

Appointments to the Regents Advisory Council on Museums

Members of the Museum Regents Advisory Council offer advice and consultation on issues of policy and service pursuant to the Board’s statutory mandate to operate the State Museum and oversee museums across New York State. The recommended appointments are Meg Ventrudo, Executive Director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, and Peter Jemison, an accomplished Native American artist, curator, and writer whose artwork is in major collections across the nation, including at the National Museum of the American Indian and the Whitney Museum.

Regents Advisory Council on Museum Appointments

Department staff will present proposed appointments to the Regents Advisory Council on Museums for Board of Regents approval. Members of the Regents Advisory Council on Museums offer advice and consultation on issues of policy and service pursuant to the Board’s statutory mandate to operate the State Museum and oversee museums across New York State. The recommended appointments to the Museum Regents Advisory Council are: David Kahn, Executive Director of the Adirondack Experience The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake and Barbara Hunt McLanahan, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts, both for five-year terms through December 31, 2023.

The list of members as of November 29, 2018, is

  • Kate Bennett, President of the Rochester Museum & Science Center
  • Suzanne LeBlanc, President of the Long Island Children’s Museum
  • Sara Pasti, Director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz
  • Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of the Fenimore Art Museum
  • Daniel Slippen, Vice President of Government Relations of the American Museum of Natural History
  • Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator of the National September 11 Memorial Museum
  • Joe Lin-Hill, Deputy Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Elizabeth Dunbar, Director of the Everson Museum of Art
  • Kris Wetterlund, Director of Education and Interpretation of the Corning Museum of Glass
  • Gretchen Sorin, Director and Distinguished Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program for Museum Studies
  • Meg Ventrudo, Executive Director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
  • Peter Jemison, Native American artist and curator

For 2018, I found two other mentions of the Museum Advisory Council.

November: Regent Tilles indicated the Museum Regents Advisory Council would be meeting later today and the focus will be on P-20 education initiatives.

June: Deputy Commissioner Schaming invited the Regents to attend a Museum Regents Advisory Council meeting on June 12 at 1:30pm. This meeting gathers museum professionals from across the state to discuss best practices and new initiatives.

One might conclude that the Advisory Council meets twice a year in Albany. As to what is recommended by the Advisory Council to the Cultural Education Committee, that is more of a mystery. Therefore I conclude this post as I did in 2017 with the following questions and comments about the Museum Regents Advisory Council.

1. What has the Regents Advisory Council on Museums been doing?
2. How has it discharged its responsibility to effectively communicate with the history community?
3. How has it discharged its responsibility to advocate on behalf of the history community?
4. How has it discharged its responsibility to monitor education policies particularly related to the teaching of local history?
5. Why isn’t there a session at the annual MANY conference set aside for the Regents Advisory Council on Museums to report to the history community?
6. Why isn’t there a representative from the Regents Advisory Council on Museums present at each of the regional meetups conducted by MANY throughout the state?
7. What is the contact information for the history community to use to reach out to the Regents Advisory Council on Museums?

It’s great to know that there is a Regents Advisory Council on Museums but I can’t help but wonder how many people in the history community know that it exists and what it has actually accomplished.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.