Office of the President

Laura Sparks

Laura Sparks, executive director of the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia, has been elected president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, effective January 4, 2017. Sparks will be the first woman to lead the institution.

The transition plan for her inaugural year has been announced. There is also a suggestion box for you to share your thoughts.

Sparks is a leader in the field of community-focused philanthropy. At the William Penn Foundation, a leading philanthropy with an endowment greater than $2 billion, she was responsible for numerous initiatives addressing social and environmental challenges in America’s fifth largest city and for designing programs in education, public space, the arts and the environment. Under her guidance, the foundation launched and refined new strategic priorities, focusing its $115 million grant budget on improvements in urban education for economically disadvantaged children, protection of the water resources serving 15 million people across four states, development of world-class urban parks and trails in underserved communities and cultivation of a vibrant cultural sector. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Sparks holds an M.B.A. and a J.D. with honors from the University of Pennsylvania.

See more about the announcement.

Read her Messages to the Cooper community.

Read more about her background.

 

  • 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.