The campus is closed and staff will work remotely at least until the governor announces the reopening of the New York City Region. See the Coronavirus / COVID-19 Updates page.

House Call: Parents Help out at Phonathon

POSTED ON: April 26, 2012

Phonathon at 41 Cooper Union

When senior Alex Erb enrolled in Cooper Union’s civil engineering program in 2008, his Manhattan-based parents were excited that their son was admitted to such a prestigious program that also happened to be close to home.

Rhonda and Stephen Erb live only a few dozen blocks uptown from Cooper Union’s campus. Since the very beginning of Alex’s studies at Cooper, the couple has been actively involved in raising money for the school. Every year the two volunteer to fundraise together through Cooper’s annual Phonathon. They make time to call other Cooper parents and ask that they support and donate to the historic institution that continues to graduate leading innovators in architecture, art, and engineering.

Rhonda Erb, who works from home as a writer and editor, says she enjoys getting involved immensely. “My husband works as a Vice President at an investment bank, so he has a lot less time. We make time to work together on this though,” she explains. Rhonda does most of the talking while Stephen helps with dialing and other logistics.

The Phonathon helps the Erbs take part in what they describe as an intimate community of Cooper parents and supporters. It also allows them to get a little insight into the institution where their son Alex studies and to catch a glimpse of his learning environment.

Rhonda says she would encourage other parents and alumni to get involved in the Phonathon, describing it as a fun and supportive way to stay involved in her son’s community.

To learn more about the Phonathon or to get involved please contact Joseph McDonald at

  • 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.