Today, Thursday, October 11, 2007, the New York State Commission on Higher Education held its first public hearing at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.
Representing NYSHEI, Executive Director Jason Kramer delivered oral and written testimony to the assembled commissioners. Forwarding the ARIA proposal, Mr. Kramer argued the importance of academic libraries.
Testifying at the event was important for NYSHEI.
1. The hearing acknowledged NYSHEI’s emergent role in state policy deliberations. While the “heavy hitters” of the higher education community (SUNY, CUNY, CICU) sat on the Commission, NYSHEI has become an important contributor of ideas. In fact, NYSHEI received an enviable position on the agenda (among the earlier speakers) and was called to speak before most of the attending college presidents, deans and provosts.
2. NYSHEI is the voice of academic libraries. No one – other than NYSHEI – spoke about the importance of libraries to the higher education enterprise. In fact, no one else even spoke about access to information, as among the most important aspects of excellence in higher education. Without NYSHEI, academic libraries are not part of the conversation.
3. In ARIA, NYSHEI offered a solution. While most presenters called on the Commission to find solutions to difficult political problems – ranging from public tuition to the very mission of SUNY – NYSHEI offered a comparably low cost opportunity to strengthen all higher education institutions and the state economy.
Commission Chairman Hunter Rawlings ran a brisk meeting, limiting each presenter to a strict five minutes and not allowing any questions. However, NYSHEI’s message of state support for an information infrastructure that improves teaching, learning, research and the state economy was notably well-received by several commission members who made supportive, off-the-record, comments.
It is expected that the Commission will hold at least one more hearing – most likely in New York City. Once again, NYSHEI will be on hand to make certain that academic libraries are part of the conversation when policy makers talk about the state’s higher education system.