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In Memoriam: William Sandholm CE'63

POSTED ON: January 13, 2020

William Sandholm CE'63 wit Rachel Warren, Chair of the Board of Trustees

William Sandholm CE'63 wit Rachel Warren, Chair of the Board of Trustees

William H. Sandholm, a 1963 civil engineering graduate of The Cooper Union and long-time member of the Board of Trustees, passed away on Tuesday, December 31.

A native of Brooklyn, Mr. Sandholm attended Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene before studying civil engineering at Cooper and later earning an MBA at Pace University. After a summer job at Rose Associates, a real estate and development firm based in New York, he was offered a permanent position. Specializing in banking relationships and project evaluations, he stayed with the company for 50 years, the entirety of his career. Mr. Sandholm knew every aspect of the business, having worked in construction, finance, operations, and development. In 2011, he was named the company’s chief operating officer and the following year, Rose’s chief executive officer, the only person not from the Rose family to lead the company.

Mr. Sandholm served on The Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2011, and as the current chair, Rachel Warren, recently said, he showed a “singular devotion to the school.” Stan Lapidus EE’70, who served on the Board of Trustees for more than a decade with Mr. Sandholm, recently recalled, “Bill was a man of real integrity. He had tremendous energy and was deeply dedicated to Cooper. I very much enjoyed the time he and I spent together.”

Mr. Sandholm regularly participated in myriad alumni and school events and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2005. Inducted into the Lifetime Giving Society in September, 2019 for his generous financial support of the school, he left a life insurance policy to Cooper a year before. In a 2018 interview, he encouraged others to do the same. 

He also served as a member of the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate Sector Group (a former sector of the New York City Investment Fund), which specialized in leading the Fund’s investments in companies that were developing financial services over the Internet.

He is survived by his wife Patricia, his sons William and David, and his grandchildren Lily, Thomas, and Otto.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.