Opportunities for Involvement in Cooper's Future
To The Cooper Union Community:
Last month, we announced staffing reductions that resulted from necessary budget cuts that were approved last year. As we restructure going forward, we will look to maintain and build on the strengths and knowledge of our staff while preserving these cost savings. I said then that while this kind of change is undeniably hard, especially for a community like ours, it would be a step toward our future. Today, I want to assure you that we are on a path forward, and I want to highlight some of the ways you can get involved as we move toward a more vibrant, sustainable, inclusive future.
Strategic Planning—Your Voice Matters
With the $9.1 million in budget cuts announced and the associated personnel reductions now complete, we are initiating a community-wide strategic planning process, and I look forward to your input. There will be multiple ways for faculty, staff and students to connect with this process.
To kick things off, I invite you to join our Community Planning Collaborative. I really want to inform our strategic planning with your experience here at Cooper Union, so this group, composed of faculty, staff and students, will offer its thoughts on areas like an internal assessment that we are conducting, a review of external trends that impact us, and the specific strategies that will emerge from these reviews. If you’re interested in participating, please sign up here. Initial Community Planning Collaborative sessions will kick off the week of April 17.
We will also gather feedback through the roundtable discussions that we announced earlier this semester. If you are interested in participating, please click here.
If these engagement opportunities are not for you but you still want to participate in the process, please plan to attend upcoming Cooper Union town halls that will bring our community together to review our findings, share ideas, and solicit feedback. Details and dates for the town halls will be shared soon.
The mission statement sub-committee is also seeking your input on development of the next Cooper Union mission statement. An email was recently sent asking for your feedback and recommendations. Please do share your thoughts. Arriving at a new mission statement that is refreshed, revitalized and truly representative of our aspirations as a community will be vital to our strategic planning process.
The strategic planning process will move swiftly as we aim to have outcomes and action items ready for implementation in the fall.
New Diversity & Inclusion Task Force
Late last year, the Faculty-Student Senate passed a resolution recommending we take a closer look at gender diversity issues in engineering admissions. I support the resolution and am eager to better understand this issue. I am also expanding the exploration of diversity issues college-wide and establishing a new Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to help us do so. Diversity is a central feature of Cooper Union’s legacy and historic mission. It’s also an area where, I believe, we must lead. The structure and approach for this Task Force is being developed now and will launch shortly. The goal is to engage faculty, students and staff in a process that examines diversity and inclusion in our community in order to develop an actionable plan that drives us toward excellence by promoting inclusive practices across all facets of Cooper Union operations, pedagogy, and student support. Look for more information to come on this initiative in the coming weeks, including how you can get involved.
No one knows The Cooper Union as well as you, the people who are experiencing it every day. I want those experiences and your feedback to directly inform decisions and actions college-wide, so we are designing a new Presidential Fellows program. The idea is for a team of three— one student, one faculty member and one staff member each semester—to provide direct and ongoing feedback within the President’s Office, while also working on a strategic, semester-long project for the Cooper Union community. I am currently looking for volunteers who are interested in helping me design the program. If you’d like to explore this idea with me and help design the program for launch in the fall semester, please sign up here, describing in 500 words or less the experiences and perspectives you will bring to our work together.
There is much we can—and will—accomplish together. These areas are just a start. I look forward to working with many of you in the weeks and months ahead.