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Administrative History

The Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York was created on May 1, 1784 by statute to act as trustees of Columbia College and of all other colleges and academies incorporated in New York. In 1787, the Regents' powers were broadened to include the ability to “visit and inspect all the colleges, academies, and schools” in the state. In subsequent years, this power to “visit and inspect” included the incorporation of colleges (1811), the trusteeship of the State Library (1844) and the State Museum (1845), and the development of educational standards and Regents' examinations for high schools. The Regents' oversight powers over primary and secondary education overlapped with the functions of the Department of Public Instruction, created in 1854. To address this, the Unification Bill of 1904 ceded authority over all educational institutions to the newly-created New York State Education Department, led by a Commissioner of Education appointed by the Regents.

The Board of Regents currently consists of seventeen members elected by the New York State Legislature for five-year terms. Each of New York's thirteen judicial districts is represented by a Regent, while four Regents serve at large. The Board's general supervisory authority extends to all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in New York State, as well as libraries, museums, public broadcasting, and certain professions.

The Board of Regents meet regularly on a monthly basis to be informed of educational developments in New York State and agree upon official actions of the board. These meetings are typically held over a three-day period, and involve meetings of standing Regents committees on elementary and secondary education, higher education, professional practice, ethics, and others, as well as meetings of the Committee of the Whole, involving all of the Regents. On the final day, a public meeting of the Regents is held, where the official actions of the Regents are announced. This is usually followed by a press conference held by the Chancellor of the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education.

Typical actions taken at monthly Regents meetings include the approval of Regents policy statements and reports; the granting and revisions of charters for schools, colleges, libraries, and educational organizations; and decisions made on proposed revisions to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and the Education Law.