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The Cooper Union Releases Statement on the Current Situation

POSTED ON: December 7, 2012

On midday Monday, December 3, 11 art students locked themselves in on the eighth floor of The Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. The administration has asked them to leave on several occasions and they have not.

Our primary concern is for the safety of all students and to ensure that the actions of a few do not disrupt classes and final exams. We remain in contact with the students’ designated representative who said the locked-in group has access to food, water and sanitary facilities. The Cooper Union has expressed concerns about their safety, and they responded that they have taken precautions. Our concerns also extend to actions and conditions that could affect the safety of the public.

On Dec 5, protesters disrupted a meeting of the Board of Trustees, preventing some faculty members from presenting their academic plans to the Board.

It is important that despite the understandable passions involved, we remain engaged in a civil process as we attempt to resolve critical issues relating to the institution’s future and survival.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Dec 5 to support President Jamshed Bharucha and the planning process he is leading.

We are in the midst of a deliberative process designed to position The Cooper Union for a future characterized by true distinction, the highest standards of merit-based access and scholarship suppor, academic excellence and financial sustainability. We must explore and evaluate a range of options—without prejudging any. In order to retain the prospects for full tuition scholarships, you must retain The Cooper Union. A Revenue Task Force consisting of faculty, elected students, staff and alumni has recommended launching master’s programs and summer programs that are fee-based, while seeking as far as possible to maintain the full scholarships for students in our three flagship undergraduate programs. The deans and the faculty of each of the three schools have been working to develop academic plans along these lines. The Board of Trustees will study reports as they come in, and will make key decisions early in the spring semester.

President Bharucha and Vice President of Finance Westcott have held more than 80 informational meetings with the Cooper Union community—students, faculty, alumni and staff. Earlier this week during a spontaneous discussion between the protesters and the President in the lobby of 41 Cooper Square, protesters asked the President to meet with them immediately. He agreed and invited them to the Rose Auditorium. However, most of the protesters declined and left the building.

  • 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.