Office of the President

Laura Sparks in Peter Cooper Square, 2016

Laura Sparks in Peter Cooper Square, 2016

Laura Sparks is the president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and a recognized leader in education, finance, community economic development, and philanthropy.   

Sparks assumed her role at The Cooper Union on January 4, 2017. She is the 13th president of the institution and the first woman to hold the position. Sparks has led a successful financial turnaround, reversing decades of deficits, and pursuing an ambitious and comprehensive plan to achieve full-tuition scholarships for all undergraduate students that will return Cooper to its roots of providing a free education for students from all walks of life. Cumulative financial results have exceeded plan goals since it was adopted in 2018, allowing for a six-year freeze on tuition, increased scholarship levels with an average 83% of tuition costs covered for undergraduates, and nearly 50% of students attending tuition-free, as well as new investments in academic and student life. During her time with  Cooper, the institution launched the AACE Lab, a new digital fabrication lab providing students and faculty across The Cooper Union’s art, architecture, and engineering programs with access to many tools typically only available in large-scale industrial environments; hired new tenure-track faculty members across the institution; launched cutting-edge partnerships with the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Center for Computational Astrophysics of the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute, the Public Art Fund, and others; and introduced new internal cross-disciplinary partnerships, as well as a new computer science major and new minors in computer science, bioengineering, and the humanities and social sciences. Sparks has also led a reawakening of the school’s historic Great Hall as an iconic forum where people contest and shape the important issues of our day, providing New Yorkers and online audiences around the world with creative and thought-provoking programming that is free and open to the public. 

Read her full bio.

Read her Messages to the Cooper community.

President Sparks holds regular Office Hours for faculty, staff, and students to share ideas and concerns. There is also a suggestion box for you to share your thoughts.

  • 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.