A Message on Behalf of the Free Education Committee -- Jan. 15, 2016

POSTED ON: January 15, 2016

The below message was sent to members of The Cooper Union community on January 15, 2016:

We are pleased to announce that the Free Education Committee (“FEC”) of The Cooper Union Board of Trustees held its first meeting on January 12, in order to organize for the work it is to undertake pursuant to the consent decree that was approved by the New York State Supreme Court.

As prescribed in the consent decree, the committee’s focus and responsibility is to: 

“examine whether Cooper can return to a sustainable full tuition scholarship model that maintains its strong reputation for academic quality within its Art, Architecture and Engineering programs at their historical levels of enrollment,” 

and develop and propose a strategic plan aimed at doing so.

The members of the FEC are:

  • Robert Tan AR’81, chairman, alumni trustee 
  • Monica Abdallah ChE’17, student trustee 
  • Adrian Jovanovic BSE’89, alumni trustee 
  • Malcolm King EE’97, trustee

In addition, Atina Grossmann, faculty representative from Humanities and Social Sciences, and Amy Westpfahl, staff representative, have been designated as observers to the FEC.

The terms of the consent decree were announced on September 1, 2015. However, the consent decree was not approved by the New York State Supreme Court until December 16, 2015. While the Board of Trustees already had moved ahead to adopt the requisite bylaw amendments and resolutions, including the constitution of the FEC, this unanticipated delay in approval by the court has impacted the ability to meet the deadlines stipulated in the consent agreement for the appointment of the financial monitor and the FEC’s first interim report.

Specifically, the New York State Attorney General has yet to appoint the independent financial monitor who is mandated to attend all FEC meetings and who is charged to comment on the FEC’s work.  The consent decree calls for the FEC to present its first progress report today (January 15, 2016), but the absence of the financial monitor has rendered that deadline impractical.

We anticipate that preliminary work can begin without the financial monitor. In the meantime, we are communicating with the attorney general’s office to create a revised timetable for the reports to be delivered by the FEC and the financial monitor.

The FEC now will be meeting monthly, realizing that this is a difficult challenge, but united in our determination to pursue the goal stated in the consent decree. Though the FEC will be reviewing the analyses previously done, the answers lie ahead of us and not behind.  The FEC will be generating and developing new ideas to move Cooper Union toward that goal. 

The Board of Trustees and the Free Education Committee remain committed to diligently executing this important charge on behalf of The Cooper Union community. We thank you for your continued patience and look forward to updating you once the revised timetable is established and the financial monitor is appointed by the attorney general.


Robert Tan, Chairman
Free Education Committee

Richard S. Lincer, Chairman
Board of Trustees

  • 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.