Paleonet: Ed Landing at NYSM

Weil, Anne anne.weil at
Wed Jul 20 22:52:32 UTC 2011

Dr. Edward Davis posted the following to the VP list:

Hello, VPers,

It has come to my attention (see link: * *that 5 curators of the NY State Museum are set to be laid off on July 23rd.  This accounts for about 1/3 of the curators at the museum, and includes the State Archaeologist, the State Paleontologist, the Curator of Prehistoric Archaeology, the Curator of Historic Archaeology, and the Curator of Mineralogy.  With these layoffs there will be no Curators left in the Department of Archaeology at all.  In total, the specimens in the collections to be left without a curator will number conservatively about 10 million specimens.  With the lack of Curators most of these collections will be mothballed, and no researchers will be able to access them.  These collections include some of the earliest museum collections in the entire country.  The NY State Museum is the oldest State Museum in the country being now 175 years old.

With the loss of curators the museum will also lose many of the Teacher's Workshops that are performed as well as an Archaeological field school meant to educate teachers and students.

The positions were targeted.  The State Education Department was required to let 15 people go.  5 of the 15 were chosen to be these curators.  It seems a conscious decision to eliminate Research and Collections from the Museum.

It would be beneficial if people, particularly those in NY State, email letters to the following 3 people: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chancellor Merryl Tisch (Head of the Board of Regents), and Commissioner Dr. John B. King (Commissioner of the NY State Education Department).  
Additionally it would be beneficial for those in NY State to contact their State Representative, State Senator, and their Educational District's Regent. Addresses and links to the State Representative, State Senator, and Regent is below.

Making a link to the importance of research and museum collections, their link to education (particularly P-12 education), and the importance of curators to look over those collections is very important.  If you are inclined to write a letter, please do not mention the curators by name as they were targeted, and their mention could be professionally harmful to them in the future. A sample letter is provided below.

*Governor Andrew Cuomo*
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
or email at: * *(need to fill out an email form-can't email directly)

*Chancellor Merryl Tisch*
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234
RegentTisch at <mailto:RegentTisch at>

*Commissioner Dr. John B. King*
Commissioner of Education
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234
jking at <mailto:jking at>

For NY State citizens:
Regent Districts: ** NY State Representatives: * *(add address to look up NY assembly member) NY State Senators: * *(add address to look up NY senate member)
Possible Sample Letter

I am writing this letter in response to the directed layoffs of five curators at the New York State Museum, which include the State Archaeologist, the State Paleontologist, the Curator of Prehistoric Archaeology, the Curator of Historic Archaeology, and the Curator of Mineralogy.  In light of the State's education agenda, I find these layoffs particularly short-sighted, and the savings you create by these layoffs will not offset the loss to education for the state.  It appears that with these layoffs the museum will be left with no archaeology curators.  Research, particularly collections based research, is the cornerstone for education, and the curators at the NY State Museum have made extremely important contributions (textbook-changing contributions) that have and will continue to directly affect the students and citizens not only of the state of New York, but around the world.  As you know, the NY State Museum is the oldest state museum in the country and the research and collections overseen by the curators at the museum is world-class.  With the loss of these curators not only is research lost, but these curators also create public exhibits, hold field schools, hold teacher's workshops, and teach students of all ages. With these layoff, the State of New York is losing the people that create the data and information for textbooks, losing the people that aid in creation of public museum exhibits, losing the people that teach the teachers, and losing the people that are able to teach the students with hands-on experience in active scientific research.  Additionally, the collections housed at the NY State Museum represent the history of New York. Without care, management, and research these collections, and the information that these collections contain, will be lost to all.

With these facts in mind, I respectfully request that these layoffs be reconsidered, and the great influence and importance of museum curators in education be considered in the future.


Edward Davis

Edward Davis, PhD
Fossil Collections Mgr.
Museum of Natural and Cultural History
and Department of Geology
University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403
Tel: (541)346-3461

Anne Weil, Ph.D.
Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
1111 W. 17th St.
Tulsa, OK 74107

ofc. phone: (918) 561-8266
lab phone: (918) 561-8485
e-mail: anne.weil at

-----Original Message-----
From: paleonet-bounces at [mailto:paleonet-bounces at] On Behalf Of Roy Plotnick
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 5:06 PM
To: PaleoNet
Subject: Paleonet: Ed Landing at NYSM

Just saw the following. Quite upsetting.   Anyone know more?  - Roy

Roy E. Plotnick
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago
845 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60607

E-mail: plotnick at

office phone: 312-996-2111     fax: 312-413-2279
lab phone: 312-355-1342

web page:

"The scientific celebrities, forgetting their molluscs and glacial periods, gossiped about art, while devoting themselves to oysters and ices with characteristic energy.." -Little Women, Louisa  May Alcott

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