Advancing the Mission: Cooper Union at 150

November 02, 2009

Cooper Union Stock Photo

During the months of October and November, The Cooper Union opened several major exhibitions designed and curated by alumni and faculty as part of the college's year-long 150th anniversary celebration.

On October 24, The Cooper Union opened Advancing the Mission: The Cooper Union at 150, an historical exhibition commemorating the institution’s 150th anniversary. The exhibition presents the story of The Cooper Union, its origins in the values adamantly held by Peter Cooper, and its historic promotion of the democratic ideals of free education, social justice, philanthropy and civic virtue. The Great Hall’s centrality in advancing these ideals is emphasized in the exhibition, as are the evolutions the institution has undergone in continuing its leadership in public service. Designed pro bono by Lee H. Skolnick (AR’79) and his company, Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, the exhibition is located just outside the Great Hall where it provides visitors to Cooper Union with a broad view of the institution and its place in New York City history. The exhibition was fabricated by the Foundations Group, headed by Saif Sumaida (AR’92), overseen by Harry Gaveras (AR’93) who acted as owner’s representative, and received support for graphics through Trustee Mark Epstein (A’76).

Advancing the Mission Exhibition Committee
Ronni Denes, Vice President for External Affairs
Peter Buckley, Professor of History, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
David Greenstein, Director of Continuing Education and Public Programs
Steven Hillyer (AR’90), Director of Archives, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Claire McCarthy, Chair, Director of Public Affairs
Carol Salomon, Librarian, Director of the Cooper Archive
Jolene Travis, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Media Relations

  • 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.