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Commissioner, New York State Education Department

Comm Mills Bio and Photo

Richard Mills was appointed by the Board of Regents as President of the University of the State of New York and Commissioner of Education in August 1995.  Before being appointed Commissioner in New York, Mills served as Commissioner of Education in Vermont for seven years.  Prior to becoming Vermont Education Commissioner, Mills served as a special assistant to Governor Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey for more than three years, and held a variety of other posts in the New Jersey Department of Education.             

As Commissioner of Education, Mills serves as chief executive officer of the Board of Regents, which has jurisdiction over the most comprehensive state educational system in the nation.  The system encompasses every education endeavor in the State, including public and non-public elementary, middle and secondary education; public and independent colleges and universities; museums, libraries, historical societies and archives; the vocational rehabilitation system; and responsibility for the licensing, practice and oversight of 48 professions.

Under the Board of Regents and Commissioner Mills’ leadership, New York has established an overall strategy for raising standards for all students.  This strategy includes higher learning standards; new curriculum and assessments; new policies and standards for teacher preparation; and a new accountability system for schools which includes statewide annual school report cards for all districts and schools in the State.  Closing the performance gap in student achievement and the recruitment and development of effective school leaders is a critical focus of the Department and the Commissioner.  Increasing public access to cultural resources throughout the State; recruitment and preparation of teachers; and strengthening the University of the State of New York are priority areas for the Department.

Commissioner Mills received a bachelor’s degree in history from Middlebury College in 1966, a master’s degree in American History from Columbia University in 1967, an MBA from Columbia University in 1975, and a doctorate of education from Columbia University in 1977.  From 1967 to 1971 Mills taught history at the Dalton School in New York City.  With four other teachers, he helped establish and run the Elizabeth Seeger School in New York City from 1971 to 1973.