A Letter from President-Elect Laura Sparks

Dear Cooper Union Community,

I am extraordinarily honored to serve as the next President of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. 

Cooper Union holds a unique and important place among America’s colleges and universities.  Its remarkable history and the visionary goals of its founder, Peter Cooper, continue to provide an inspiration for American higher education, with its emphasis on excellence, admissions based on merit alone and scholarships that support full and equal participation by all students.  It is my goal to work with students, faculty, staff, board, alumni and the greater New York City community to further all of these goals.  

Cooper Union is also enmeshed within the historical, cultural and educational fabric of New York City, serving as a civic hub and center for thoughtful dialogue.  In the years ahead, it is my hope that Cooper Union’s role as a host to civic-minded debate and free expression will only grow. 

In the immediate future I will focus much of my energies on connecting with the Cooper Union community, from faculty and staff to students and alumni, and identifying the common goals and passions that we share.   I am particularly excited to meet more of Cooper Union’s passionate, thoughtful and accomplished students as well as its extraordinary faculty.  

While Cooper Union has seen some challenging times in recent years, I have been impressed with the passion, commitment, and determination of the Cooper Union board to look forward while acknowledging and respecting dissenting views and the voices of many throughout the wider school community.   I also want to recognize the important role that Bill Mea has played as Acting President.  While I am just getting to know Bill, it is clear to me that he provided leadership and a stabilizing presence at a time when Cooper Union needed it most.  I look forward to working with him on the next chapter of the Cooper Union story.

In the longer term, I will work with the Cooper Union board, staff, alumni and students to identify ways to make our community’s common visions and goals a reality through reasoned decision-making, collaborative fundraising, and schoolwide coalition-building.  Moving Cooper Union forward, while also holding true to its founding principles, is all of our jobs, and it will require the support and involvement of the entire community. I look forward to working in partnership with all of you.

I thank the board for this tremendous opportunity, and I am eager to begin doing the work necessary to preserve the legacy and vision of Peter Cooper for many years to come.

With warmest regards and great enthusiasm for what lies ahead,


  • 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.