Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Thursday, September 7, 2000


ALBANY—Richard P. Mills, Commissioner of Education for New York State and a pioneer in the movement to strengthen performance standards for schools, teachers, and schoolchildren, has been chosen to receive the prestigious Corning Award for Excellence.

The Business Council presents the award each year to a New Yorker who has demonstrated an outstanding level of accomplishment and a deep and sustaining commitment to the people of New York State.

The award, which is sponsored by Corning Incorporated, will be presented Wednesday, Sept. 20, at The Business Council's Annual Meeting at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing. The Council's Annual Meeting will run Sept. 20-22.

"Commissioner Mills is highly deserving of this recognition as his work to strengthen education is instrumental in driving business investment in New York State," said Roger Ackerman, chairman and CEO of Corning Incorporated and past chairman of The Business Council. "Corning knows firsthand that quality education is critical in retaining and attracting employees. By working to raise educational standards, we and other companies can expand and grow our businesses in New York."

Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh said, "By raising the standards by which our children are educated, the Commissioner has helped to paint a brighter future for all of New York. We are now at the leading edge of education in this country, thanks in part to his leadership, commitment, and vision."

Mills was appointed Commissioner of Education by the state Board of Regents in August 1995. He holds the additional title of president of the University of the State of New York.

During his tenure in New York, the Board of Regents has:

Walsh cited two key performance improvements that can be attributed to these steps. First, he noted noted that 92 percent of high-school seniors had passed last January's new Regents tests (the most recent for which results are available) and thus met the tough new graduation requirements. Second, he noted that 59 percent of fourth-graders taking the most recent ELA test scored in the top two of four levels of proficiency, up from 48 percent the year before.

As Commissioner of Education in New York, Mills is head of the most comprehensive state educational system in the nation. Every educational institution in the state is under his jurisdiction, which includes: public and nonpublic elementary, middle and secondary schools; public and independent colleges and universities; museums, libraries, historical societies and archives; the vocational rehabilitation system; and responsibility for the licensing, practicing and oversight of 38 professions.

Mills earned a bachelor's degree in history from Middlebury College in 1966 and a master's degree in history from Columbia University in 1967. From 1967 to 1971 he was a history teacher at the Dalton School in New York City.

Along with four fellow teachers, Mills established and ran the Elizabeth Seeger School in New York City from 1971 to 1973. He then went on to receive his MBA from Columbia in 1975 and his doctorate in education there in 1977.

Mills held a number of posts in the New Jersey Department of Education, including special assistant to the commissioner and deputy assistant commissioner. He also served as a special assistant to New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean for four years before becoming Commissioner of Education in Vermont for seven years.

The Corning Award will be presented to Mills by Roger Ackerman, chairman and CEO of Corning Incorporated and past chairman of The Business Council. The award is a magnificent piece of original Steuben Glass, handcrafted by masters in Corning, New York.

Past recipients of the award are: Erland E. "Erkie" Kailbourne" (1999); Robert B. Wegman (1998); Judith S. Kaye (1997); John J. Phelan, Jr. (1996); Barber B. Conable, Jr., (1995); James W. Kinnear (1994); Muriel Siebert (1993); Hugh L. Carey (1992); David Harden (1991); Raymond T. Schuler (1990); and Warren M. Anderson and Stanley Fink (1989); Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. (1988); James D. Robinson III (1987); Franklin A. Thomas (1986); Kitty Carlisle Hart (1985); Frank T. Cary (1984); Clifton Garvin (1983); David Rockefeller (1982); Richard R. Shinn (1981); Melvin C. Holm (1980); and Walter A. Fallon (1979).

The Business Council is New York's largest broad-based business group, representing some 4,000 member companies large and small across the state. Based in Albany, it lobbies for a better business climate, and offers cost-cutting services to its members.