President-Elect Laura Sparks Transition Plan Announced

POSTED ON: October 26, 2016

Laura Sparks at the Cooper Fund Leadership Circle reception on October 25, 2016. Photo by Marget Long/The Cooper Union

Laura Sparks at the Cooper Fund Leadership Circle reception on October 25, 2016. Photo by Marget Long/The Cooper Union

On October 27, 2016 Richard Lincer, chairman of the board of trustees, released the transition plan for President-Elect Laura Sparks via email to the Cooper community.

To the Members of the Cooper Union Community,

Since last month’s announcement that the Board of Trustees had selected Laura Sparks to serve as Cooper Union’s 13th president, we have heard from many of you about your excitement for Cooper Union’s next chapter. The Board, our new president-elect, and many of you are eager to get started and to share in the process of helping Laura learn about our wonderful institution – our rich history, our recent challenges, the opportunities before us, and our hopes for the future.

To that end, the Board and administration have put together a transition plan that seeks to engage the entire Cooper Union community. Below please find a summary of the plan that will take us through the next several months. We see this as a dynamic effort, one that will be increasingly shaped by your thoughts and input along the way. In the coming weeks, Laura will begin to visit campus, meeting with faculty, students, alumni, and the Board to get to know you and to hear your reflections and ideas. Getting around to everyone will take some time, and we are eager to hear your thoughts on the transition, so we have created an online suggestion box for you to share your thoughts.

We also look forward to introducing Laura to the Cooper Union community as a whole. To do that, we will be planning a gathering in the Great Hall in early December or late January. More details will follow.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and your ongoing commitment to Cooper Union’s future.

Richard S. Lincer
Chairman of the Board

Presidential Transition


Ensure a smooth leadership transition that provides a strong foundation for a successful presidential tenure. This will be accomplished through:

  • Board engagement;
  • Informational meetings with faculty, staff, students and alumni that convey both content and culture;
  • Connections to the broader New York City, higher education and philanthropic communities; and
  • Coordinated and inclusive communications strategies.

Following the Appointment

  • Communicate appointment
  • Develop transition plan

Transition Phase (September through December 2016)

  • Student trustees and admissions provide campus tour
  • Governance: Board committee briefings
  • Academics: Meetings with deans, faculty, senate and union leaders
  • Students: Meetings with student leaders
  • Administration: Administration staff briefings and meeting with staff union leaders
  • Alumni: Engagement with CUAA
  • Community: Meetings with local government and neighborhood leaders

First Six Months (January through June 2017)

  • Assemble academic and administrative leadership teams
  • Regular Board and community updates and engagement through a variety of forums
  • Immediate focus on consent decree compliance, financial management, Free Education Committee, and Middle States accreditation
  • Alumni and parent outreach through local events and regional travel
  • Ongoing faculty and staff engagement in providing feedback and informing planning
  • Student engagement through student events and club activities
  • External engagement with higher education, philanthropic, and NYC communities
  • Recap of themes emerging from school and community meetings and communication of key priorities to Board and Cooper Union community
  • Community based inaugural events: celebration of Cooper Union's students, alumni, and faculty culminating with a special event/fundraiser
  • 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.