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Gideon Hawley, the first Superintendent of Common Schools, organized the system, distributed school aid from the Common School Fund, and prodded local officials to set up school districts and submit reports.
The Regents adopted standards for incorporating private academies (1801) and colleges (1811), and required academies to offer acceptable programs in order to receive aid from the Literature Fund, established in 1801.Outright competition between the Regents and the Department of Public Instruction became intense and public during the 1890s, when the Superintendents of Public Instruction lobbied to have all secondary education placed under their control.But during the same decade the University's activist program under Secretary Melvil Dewey won the Regents many new supporters.After 1842 the Superintendent of Common Schools was a member of the Board of Regents, as was the Superintendent of Public Instruction after 1854.
The latter official shared with the Regents the responsibility to inspect and report on academies.
This unwieldy body soon got involved in the day-to-day administration of Columbia.