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December 2013 Board Report

To: Members of the Cooper Union Community
From: The Cooper Union Board of Trustees

Below is a summary of the actions taken by the Board of Trustees Meeting at its December 11, 2013 meeting:

Election of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees unanimously elected Richard Lincer Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  Mr. Lincer is a Partner with the firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York.  He is the son of a Cooper alumnus (CE ’42) and has been a trustee for nine years.

Mr. Francois deMenil was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.

In acknowledgement of Mark Epstein’s leadership of the Board over the past four years, the trustees passed a resolution electing him Chairman Emeritus.

Student Representative to the Board

The Board of Trustees appointed and welcomed Devora Najjar as Student Representative to the Board of Trustees. Devora is the first student to hold such a position. In her acceptance comments, Devora expressed her gratitude to the Board on behalf of the student body and communicated her commitment to bringing the varying student perspectives to provide additional input to the Board in its decision making.  The Board, in turn, expressed great satisfaction with her appointment.

Election of Trustees

The following individuals were unanimously elected to the Board:

Jeffrey S. Hersch (EE’87)

Eric Hirschhorn (ME’89)

Malcolm Marcus King (EE’97)

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Monica Vachher

The Board also welcomed Kevin Slavin (A’95) as Alumnus Trustee.

Review and Issuance of the 2013 Audited Financial Statements
The Audit Committee conducted its annual review of the draft 2013 Audited Financial Statements prepared by KPMG.  The trustees reviewed and accepted the draft Audited Financial Statements, which will be formally issued by the auditors in the coming weeks and will be available on the Audited Financial Statements page of the Cooper Union website before the end of the calendar year.

Working Group

Mr. Borkowsky provided introductory comments about the Working Group Report (3.36MB*) that had been circulated to the Board of Trustees Executive Committee and the Finance Committee one week prior.  It was presented to the full Board of Trustees for the first time at the December 11th Board meeting by the following members of the Working Group who had chaired the subgroups that had focused on the various aspects of the report:

Professor Benjamin Davis, Engineering Faculty Representative

Professor Diane Lewis, Architecture Faculty Representative

Robert Tan, Alumni Representative

Lawrence Mesich, Staff Representative

Barry Drogin, Alumni Representative

The presenters also responded to questions from the trustees throughout the presentation.  Following the presentation the trustees thanked the members of the Working Group for their efforts and for the thought and care that went into the report. 

After the presentation, the board proceeded to an extended discussion of the report.  It was the consensus the Board that more time will be required to give the proposals contained in the report the serious and rigorous review and analysis that they warrant. The Board will undertake this review over the course of the next month and plans to meet again in mid-January to discuss the findings and determine whether, in its assessment, the plan proposed by the Working Group in fact presents a sustainable alternative to tuition.

Code of Conduct Revisions

Mr. Lincer and Dean Steven Baker led a brief discussion concerning the proposed revisions to the Student Code of Conduct that had been initiated by the Executive Committee and the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board.  Ms. Najjar reiterated concerns that had been previously expressed by the students concerning the process by which the revisions were developed and presented for consideration by the members of the Cooper Union community.  While it was noted that the Student Code of Conduct will nonetheless require updating to, among other things, take account of current legal realities applicable to the Cooper Union, it was agreed that Dean Baker and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Chris Chamberlin would undertake a consultative process with the Joint Student Council after the winter break to develop appropriate revisions that they can recommend to the Board of Trustees for consideration.

* Firefox for both Mac and Windows platforms has demonstrated problems with printing the Working Group Report correctly, although it can be viewed properly via the browser. To print the report we recommend using another browser such as Chrome, Safari (for Mac) or Internet Explorer (for Windows).
  • 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.