President Bharucha's Post-Sandy Welcome Letter

November 04, 2012

Dear Members of the Cooper Union community:

Welcome back! I hope you are all safe and well.

Please think of members of our community who you have reason to believe may need assistance, and try to contact them. The deans are working to connect with their faculty. I ask that members of the faculty communicate with students in their classes and make sure they are ok. Although we have lost a week of academic work, the safety and welfare of members of our community is the top priority.

Please join the deans and me on Monday at 12 noon in Frankie’s Kitchen for a hot drink and a chance to come together. Stop by any time between 12-4 p.m. if you can’t make it at noon.

We will stick to our scheduled academic calendar, and deans will work with the faculty to adapt as necessary. We are in touch with the NY State Education Department to coordinate guidelines for making up hours lost in the curriculum – a challenge shared by many schools in the area.

Sandy was the most devastating storm in the NY tri-state area in recent history. Please join me in extending our condolences to those whose loved ones lost their lives.  Many others lost their homes or sustained damage to their property.  While power has been restored to most regions, some are still without electricity or heat. For many, cell phone communications and internet services are still spotty.

We must acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the first responders: New York City’s finest and bravest, and their counterparts in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut. They sped into rising floods and raging fires, placing the welfare of others ahead of their own, all the while being absent from their own families. City, State and Federal governments, as well as utility companies and volunteer organizations, acted immediately to provide rescue and essential services.

The same courage and spirit of sacrifice was displayed by Cooper Union personnel who worked tirelessly through the storm and its aftermath. Some of our staff literally lived in the buildings during the worst periods, working in the dark around the clock, either sleeping in the buildings or not sleeping at all. Others improvised marathon commutes in the face of dislocations in public transportation and vehicular traffic. In all cases, I found the attitude of these loyal members of our staff to be exemplary. They were focused on the job at hand without complaining about their own situations or their inability to attend to their own homes and families. They acted to protect our facilities, to relocate students in the residence hall, to restore physical and IT services, and to ensure that we resume operations as seamlessly as possible.

As you return to our buildings this week, please take a moment to thank those responsible for security, maintenance and information technology for their selfless service. I also want to thank our students for their resilience in coping with the disruption of their academic work and their daily lives. We welcome reports of your experiences with the storm, including special acts of courage or kindness that you encountered or in which you took part. We urge you to be patient as we iron out the glitches that are inevitable during a period of recovery. Please check our website, and city government websites such as www.nyc.gov, for updates.

Cooper Union alumni and faculty have played distinguished roles in building and chronicling New York City’s massive infrastructure for over a century and a half. Many were involved in crisis management associated with Hurricane Sandy. While we tend to notice when things don’t work, and we take for granted things that do work, we should take a moment to appreciate the monumental effort involved in building and running a city such as New York. The process of analyzing what worked and what didn’t already is under way. Many aspects of the City’s infrastructure will need to be modernized, and Cooper Union once again is poised to lead. We are entering an unprecedented period of challenge and opportunity: from the Mayor’s Applied Science Initiative, to the City Council’s initiative to strengthen New York’s position as a design center, to the heightened attention to sustainable design brought about by climate change, economic disparities and population growth and migration. With our distinctive strengths in art, architecture and engineering, forged in union by the humanities and social sciences, innovations in that spark synergies between these fields, and our historic connection to the City, Cooper Union will be a driving force in the future of our city, nation and the world.

With warm regards,

Jamshed Bharucha

President

  • 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.