University Council Records, 1844 - 2018 January 17
- State University of New York at Albany--University Council
- Includes meeting minutes and supporting documentation of the Executive Committee of the New York State Normal School, 1844-1990; the Board of Trustees 1890-1928; and Board of Visitors, 1928-1939, of the New York State College for Teachers; and minutes, correspondence, reports, and publications of the University Council, 1965-2015. The power of the original Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Board of Visitors extended to the hiring and firing of all employees, prescribing the curriculum including the texts used in courses. These bodies reported jointly to the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York and the Superintendent of Education, the later individual serving as Chairman of successive bodies. The powers of the University Council, created by the SUNY Board of Trustees in 1954, are far more restricted, being limited to nominating presidents, naming buildings, and reviewing and approving major policy changes and initiatives.
- 17 cubic ft., 39 captures, and 139 Digital Files
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, University Council Records, 1844-2015. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the University Council Records).
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- Scope and Content:
Includes meeting minutes and supporting documentation of the Executive Committee of the New York State Normal School, 1844-90; the Board of Trustees 1890-1928; and Board of Visitors, 1928-39, of the New York State College for Teachers; and minutes, correspondence, reports, and publications of the University Council, 1965-85. The power of the original Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Board of Visitors extended to the hiring and firing of all employees, prescribing the curriculum including the texts used in courses. These bodies reported jointly to the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York and the Superintendent of Education, the later individual serving as Chairman of successive bodies. The powers of the University Council, created by the SUNY Board of Trustees in 1954, are far more restricted, being limited to nominating presidents, naming buildings, and reviewing and approving major policy changes and initiatives.
The records contain the minutes of the Executive Committee (1844-1909), Board of Trustees (1909-28), the Board of Visitors (1928-39, 1944-45), and the University Council, 1965-89. The records illustrate the changes in the role of this body. They also provide an oversight of the issues affecting the University and its predecessor bodies during these years. During the nineteenth and the early twentieth century the Executive Committee was very involved in the day-to-day affairs of the State Normal School, the State Normal College, and the New York State College for Teachers. It was responsible for the hiring of teachers, the curriculum, the selection of text books, school regulations, the conditions of the school buildings, and the preparation of the budget. These issues are prominent throughout the minutes. Other issues considered by the Executive Committee include: negotiation with Albany City Council concerning the provision of a building for the State Normal School, 1844; the establishment of an Experimental School, the practice teaching school which eventually became the Milne School, 1845; funding for the education of Native American youth, 1849; the acquisition of new grounds at Willett Street and Madison Avenue, 1883; the planning and building of the present downtown campus, 1906-07; the establishment of a four year rather than a two year curriculum, 1908. Prominent issues considered by the Board of Trustees included the impact on the German department of the decline of German majors, 1919; the inadequate number of student living facilities, and the submission of plans to rectify this situation, 1920-26. The Board of Visitors formulated a response to the National Defense Council of Albany's condemnation of students who were unwilling to bear arms in the event of a war in Europe, 1933; and established an the Emergency College to help high school graduates who would otherwise have been unable to finance their education plans during the Great Depression in 1933.
The role of the current University Council is quite different from that of its predecessor bodies. It now acts primarily as an advisory body to the University. It plays a significant role in shaping relations between the University and the State Legislature, and it also acts as a bridge between the University and the community. The minutes of the late 1960s through the 1980s illustrate the Council's role in each of these areas. Ongoing concerns throughout this period include institutional policy development and implementation, the establishment of University regulations, academic programs, hiring and admissions, the University budget, honoring professional staff and members of the community committed to the development of the University, naming ground and buildings. Other more specific concerns during this period include: discussions of the possible establishment of University Law and Medical Schools, 1967; the need for a clear statement from the Council concerning student dissent and freedom of speech, 1967; the Board of Trustees resolution ordering all SUNY institutions to submit regulations concerning student conduct with the Secretary of State, 1968; the need for a narcotics education program on campus, 1968; the establishment of the Department of Afro-American Studies, 1969; student unrest on campus, 1971; Affirmative Action, 1972; the Chancellor's request that the University assume responsibility for an Education Opportunity Center in Albany, 1973; the decision of the Commissioner of Education to deregister the Ph.D. programs in English and History, 1975-76; the University's Task Force on Priorities and Resources, 1976; the termination of seven Doctoral, five Masters and eight Bachelors programs, 1976; the need for more off-campus housing, 1978; drug and alcohol abuse, 1980; the Student Assembly's structure and concerns, 1981; the establishment of awards to members of the community for their service to the university, 1983; the need to strengthen and expand the relationship between campus research activities and the private sector through the formation of a Center for Research and Development, 1984; the expansion of computing facilities, 1985; student health issues, in particular AIDS, 1987; minority issues, programs, and enrollment, 1987.
- Biographical / Historical:
The University Council is the successor to the Executive Committee of the State Normal School at Albany created by "An Act for the establishment of a Normal School" passed by the State Legislature on May 7, 1844. The Executive Committee so established consisted of five members, one of whom was to be the Superintendent of the Common Schools, later the Superintendent of Education. The Committee reported to the Superintendent of Education and the Regents of the University of the State of New York. The presence of the Superintendent of the Common Schools (and his successors, the Superintendents and Commissioners of Education) on the principal governing body of the Normal School--State College for Teachers between 1844 and 1937 undoubtedly meant that the Albany Board was in a strong position to influence school policy. The Executive Committee and its successors have always included prominent local professionals, business leaders, and politicians with an interest in education.
The Executive Committee was responsible for the "care, management and government of the school," were bound to make "full and detailed reports" to the superintendent and Regents, and were to "recommend the rules and regulations which they deemed necessary and proper for said school." The Executive Committee exercised wide powers at the Normal School, extending from the supervision of hiring and dismissing faculty and staff to the choice of texts and the methods of teaching. In 1909 the title of the Executive Committee was changed to Board of Trustees, but the composition and powers of the newly named Board remained the same.
A 1928 reorganization of education in New York resulted in the replacement of the Board of Trustees by a Board of Visitors in 1929. This new Board consisted of seven persons (an increase of two) appointed by the Board of Regents upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Education. The Board of Visitors continued to have the right to nominate presidents, "visit and inspect" the school, and was mandated to meet at least three times a year. The Board's powers to "visit and inspect" specifically included the power to "keep themselves informed as to the teaching force, activities and other need of such schools." The Board was also required to make periodic reports to the Regents. The Rules of the Board of Regents specifically directed boards to pay special attention to the "teaching force, activities and other needs of such colleges" and "to the physical condition of the school plant--repairs, replacements, new buildings, equipment...."
Despite the continuity of powers between the original Executive Committee and the Board of Visitors it is apparent that during the twentieth century, due to the increased size and complexity of the College, the active administrative role of the Board had diminished. During the Brubacher presidency, 1915-1939, the minutes of the Board were dominated by the President's reports and program proposals. Under President Sayles, 1940-48, the minutes of only two board meeting exist. Perhaps in response to this development the NYSCT Board was instructed by the Regents in 1944, along with other Boards, to take an "active interest in the affairs of the Teachers College and to report annually upon the activities of the Board, including such recommendations as the Board wishes to bring to the attention of the Board of Regents." No evidence exists as to whether this charge was actually carried out.
With the creation of the State University of New York in 1948 and university-wide Board of Trustees the oversight functions and indeed the continued functioning of the Board of Visitors became less clear. The omnibus State University Education Bill effective September 1, 1953, called for the continued existence of current Boards of Visitors. While no minutes have been found to for the Board of Visitors or its successor, the College Council, between 1945 and 1960, we do have evidence that the Board of Visitors continued to function in some capacity until at least 1952,''.
The Board of Visitors appears to have been replaced by the College Council in 1954. According to Section 356 of the Education Law, Chapter 525, the function of the College Council was to "supervise locally" subject to the "general management, supervision and control and in accordance with rules established by the state university trustees, the operations and affairs of each state-operated institution of the State University...." No longer were the Regents and the Commissioner of Education were the direct overseers of the State College for Teachers. The Commissioner of Education did not have a seat on the Council. The College Council was to consist of nine members appointed by the Governor and was presided over by a chairman, also appointed by the Governor. The specific powers reserved to the College Council were to nominate candidates for President; to review all major plans of the President and to make recommendations respecting those plans to the Board of Trustees of SUNY; to make regulations regarding the maintenance of buildings, grounds and equipment, to review budget requests; foster advisory citizen's committees; name buildings and grounds "make regulations governing the conduct and behavior of students"; "prescribe for an. exercise supervision over student housing and safety"; make annual and special reports to the trustees as needed; perform other duties as assigned by the trustees; and "make and establish, and from time to time alter and amend, such regulations pertaining to the affairs of its institution, not inconsistent with law or the rules of the state university trustees may be necessary or appropriate to carry out effectively the foregoing powers and duties."
The College Council was renamed the University Council in 1963. The functions, powers, and reporting responsibility remain unchanged with the current Council. In 1975, the Council was enlarged by the addition of one non-voting student member as the result of the passage of Chapter 587 of the New York State Education Law, 1975.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives by the Office of the President and the Secretary to the University Council.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2015 by Gregory Wiedeman.