Journalist and Educator Jelani Cobb is 2022 Cooper Union Commencement Speaker

POSTED ON: April 14, 2022

Jelani Cobb, Ph.D.

Jelani Cobb, Ph.D., a New Yorker staff writer and the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University’s Journalism School, will give the 2022 commencement address at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. The program from Cooper’s historic Great Hall stage will also be livestreamed for public viewing at

“As an educator, author, and award-winning journalist, Dr. Cobb addresses the complexities of race, politics, and culture in a way that threads historical perspectives and narratives through each and distills what is truly at stake,” said Laura Sparks, president of The Cooper Union.  “The world was a different one when the Class of 2022 first arrived at Cooper Union; now, when we come together to celebrate this year’s graduates, Dr. Cobb’s insights can frame what is possible for these accomplished individuals in a way that challenges all of us to envision our part in a more just and equitable world,” she said.

“As a native New Yorker, I’ve been aware of The Cooper Union and its niche in both the city and higher education for as long as I can remember. I’m deeply honored and humbled by the invitation to deliver remarks to the 2022 graduating class of this historic institution,” said Dr. Cobb.

In addition to his work with the New Yorker, Dr. Cobb has written about politics, history, and culture for a variety of publications that include The Washington Post and The New Republic. Dr. Cobb is also a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations and the 2015 winner of the Sidney Hillman Award for Opinion Analysis Journalism for his columns on race, the police, and injustice. His books and essay collections include The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Other Essays. A New York City native, he is a graduate of Howard University and Rutgers University where he received his doctorate in American history.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is world-class private college of art, architecture, and engineering with a faculty of humanities and social sciences.  Founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist Peter Cooper, the college is dedicated to his radical commitment to diversity and his founding vision that fair access to an inspiring free education and forums for courageous public discourse foster a just and thriving world.  With a student body of more than 900 undergraduate and graduate students, The Cooper Union’s curriculum focuses on helping students acquire technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and become inspired to address the critical challenges and opportunities of their time. The institution provides close contact with a distinguished, creative faculty and fosters rigorous, humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by its urban setting in New York’s East Village. 

  • 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.