Board of Regents charters NYCHS

[NYCHS Shield]

[Albany trio]

Hurricane Floyd's next-day wind gusts greet State Museum Office of External Services chief David W. Palmquist, center, and New York Correction History Society representatives Austin Clarke, right, of NYS DOCS and Thomas McCarthy of NYC DOC outside the multi-columned State Education Building in Albany where the Board of Regents granted NYCHS' petition for a provisional charter.

The New York Correction History Society was granted a provisional charter by the Board of Regents at its Sept. 17th 1999 meeting in the State Education Department Building, Albany. The chartering came just two months and four days after NYCHS officially organized itself into existence by formal adoption of enabling resolutions, enactment of a constitution and by-laws, and election of officers. The July 13th organizational meeting was the culmination of more than two years of preparation.

Incorporation by Regents Charter: Why?

In New York, nonprofit organizations with educational purposes, such as historical societies, seeking to incorporate, must do so under Education Law 216, subject to the authority of the Regents. New York alone among the states incorporates such agencies under Education Law instead of under Corporation Law.

A museum or historical society that wishes to organize as a nonprofit education corporation must do so by petitioning the Regents for the issuance of a charter. A charter is granted by the Regents as an instrument of incorporation to a museum or historical society that satisfies Regents standards of organizational and educational quality.

A provisional charter is a form of incorporation granted for a probationary period of five years to museums and historical societies that have reasonable prospects of meeting Regents standards. At the end of the provisional period, the museum or historical society may petition either to have its charter extended for an additional term or to have it made absolute.

The State Museum's Office of External Services manages the chartering and incorporating of historical societies and museums by the Board of Regents.

The Regents' chartering action took place during a meeting of the full board that followed by a few hours a meeting of the board's Cultural Education Committee at which its member Regents had voted unanimously to recommend granting a provisional charter to NYCHS. The committee departed from its prepared agenda to move the NYCHS petition out of the planned order of business, advancing it to become the first item for consideration.

State Education Department Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Carole Huxley briefed the committee member Regents on the NYCHS petition and noted that representatives of the society were in attendance: Austin Clarke of the State Department of Correctional Services and Thomas McCarthy of the New York City Department of Correction.

Regent Harold Levy, who presided, noted that the attendance by the two despite Hurricane Floyd "demonstrated strong commitment" exists for the society and invited any comment the representatives might wish to make. Speaking as NYCHS general secretary, McCarthy thanked the committee for its courtesy and hospitality. He added that the chartering action which the committee and the board were about to undertake "has, in a sense, been more than 300 years in making," a reference to how long Correction -- in one form or another -- has been part of the New York public safety scene.

Veteran participants at Cultural Education Committee meetings said advancement of the petition to lead-off position, the acknowledgment of the society representatives' attendance and the invitation to address the committee were a rare occurrence that could be interpreted as a gesture of recognition and encouragement.

The Regents' action on the NYCHS petition entitles the society to make the following statement in its letterheads, publications, promotions, notices and other printed materials regarding its incorporation status: Provisionally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.

The chartering enables the society to make application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption as a Section 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational/cultural organization.

For the Texts of the Regents Charter Resolution & Notification Letter

Such IRS designation allows certain contributions to the society to be figured for tax deductions. The 501(c)(3) status also would enable the society to apply for various government and foundation grants and other funding.

The NYCHS general secretary took the occasion of his being in Albany for the Regents meeting as an opportunity to meet with various New York State archives, library and museum officials on both Sept. 16 and 17. These included a number involved with research residency fellowships and grants, the New York History Listserv, the Documentary Heritage Program, and the Encyclopedia of New York State.

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