Chancellor Henry T. Yang was elected chair of the prestigious Association of American Universities yesterday.

According to a press release, Yang will lead the organization — a non-profit collective that represents 60 top public and private research universities in the U.S., as well as two Canadian institutions — for one year.

UCSB has been a member of the prestigious university organization since 1995, Yang said in an e-mail.

“I was honored to be the chancellor then, and I have played an active role in AAU ever since, working with our own faculty and with other university presidents and chancellors across the country on issues of importance to higher education,” Yang said.

As the chair of the AAU, Yang said he plans to continue partnerships with faculty and higher education leaders and institutions.

“I look forward to continuing … to help advance and advocate for a national dialogue about the importance of investing in higher education and research,” Yang said. “Our universities make enormous contributions to our society and to our quality of life.”

The efforts of organizations like the AAU are crucial today, Yang said, when higher education is jeopardized by the poor economy.

“During this critical time for higher education, we must work together to sustain and enhance the capacities of American universities, which are among the best in the world in education, innovation and research,” Yang said. “The services these institutions provide to our communities, states and our global society are invaluable.”