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Moment #006: The First Class Graduates

POSTED ON: May 10, 2019


The first commencement at The Cooper Union is held on June 28. Peter Cooper delivers the commencement address. 353 people received certificates, according to the Second Annual Report in January 1861, which reads, in part:

"...over 1000 pupils remained in the Institution at the close of the term in June last, when the examinations took place, and the certificates were awarded. The examinations were voluntary, and hence the number who actually received certificates was 363, whose names are appended to this Report. It was deemed better not to compel examinations, as the fear of a public trial would deter many, especially those advanced in life, from joining the classes."

  • 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.