A Talk with Antoinette “Toni” Torres

January 10, 2018

Antoinette TorresAntoinette “Toni” Torres arrived about six months ago as Cooper Union’s new director of strategic initiatives and institutional effectiveness, but “institutional life coach” would be shorter and maybe more to the point.

“I am here to identify where we have opportunities to continue to support our students and faculty and ways they can achieve their potential,” she says. “That means understanding the impact of new pedagogy, and creating greater partnerships in the community, to looking at data to understand how students are moving through their Cooper experience, and then using those data to guide strategic priorities in a more data-centric way and to use evaluation and assessment to understand our progress toward those priorities.”

You need to stay alert to keep up with Toni. But she actually specializes more in listening and data collection. In the short term, she works on navigating the rocky shoals of Cooper Union’s decennial Middle States accreditation process, which comes up for review in 2018. But longer term, “What I have been doing is listening to faculty and looking at data from both the admissions and financial aid offices to better gain insight about the student experience.”

One of her efforts has been the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force made up of faculty, staff, and students to develop practices and make recommendations for working toward greater participation of women and diverse students.

She has other subjects she would like to tackle on a community level. “Facilitating good communications means recognizing there is not always going to be agreement. Everyone has good ideas. We have to find common ground, agree to disagree sometimes and feel comfortable with that.”

  • 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.