Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, speeches, legislation, newsletters, press releases, appointment books, newspaper clippings, and other materials documenting Gordon M. Ambach’s career as New York State Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York, 1977-1987. Records remain arranged in the original order they were received from the Commissioner’s Office.

The commissioner’s ongoing relationships with the Board of Regents, the Governor, and various state agencies are well documented in this series. Records of these relationships include meetings and councils, state budget discussions, and educational legislation that was proposed and passed. One of Commissioner Ambach’s largest contributions in this regard was his implementation of the Regents Action Plan, with a goal of providing the most rigorous educational standards in the nation for New York’s students, teachers, and schools. Included are revisions to the commissioner’s regulations relating to the Action Plan, meeting materials from the Board of Regents’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Implementation of the Action Plan,

Additionally, Ambach dealt with several important issues in education during his tenure that are included in this series. His work on the continuing integration of schools, and on the improvement of handicapped education – including schools for the blind and the deaf – were part of efforts to increase access to education for minorities. Similarly, the multitude of files on vocational and occupational education highlight the commissioner’s focus on improving non-traditional educational paths.

Ambach’s efforts in the improvement of standards were in tandem with his endeavors to improve the quality of teachers and schools. This series documents his advocacy for improving the quality and funding of libraries, and of the development and recognition of teaching as a profession. The usage of federal programs in education and teaching, as well as those of New York State, is also well represented.

As commissioner, Ambach was asked to make appearances at schools, universities, and organizations all over New York. Therefore, his speech files, which cover the entire length of his tenure, help document his opinions and accomplishments throughout his time in office. Speeches were given at events such as commencements, school group meetings, professional conferences, workshops, and meetings with organizations with an interest in education.