December 6, 2017 A message regarding the School of Art Dean

I am pleased to report that Mike Essl has graciously accepted my offer to serve as the Dean of the School of Art. Mike has been providing incredibly positive leadership to our students, faculty, and staff since taking on the role of Acting Dean in the 2016-17 academic year, has a compelling vision for the future of the School of Art, and enjoys the support of the School of Art Faculty. I thank the faculty for their input in the selection process.

Dean Essl is a Cooper Union alumnus who first began his career here as an Adjunct Instructor in 1996. Prior to serving as Acting Dean, Mike served as an Associate Professor of graphic design, a position he held since 2002. A graphic designer and educator, Dean Essl’s bold approach spans 20 years and has earned him equal acclaim for his elevation of comic books with DC Comics and Rizzoli and websites for San Francisco Opera and Wikipedia. At The Chopping Block (co-founded in 1996) and on his own, Mike has led projects that were featured by the AIGA, ComicCon, the Cooper Hewitt, and MoMA. His illustrations have been included in the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Yale University Art Gallery, and his outspoken commentary has been featured on the A&E Biography of Mr. T, Design Matters with Debbie Millman, The Howard Stern Show, and VH1’s Totally Obsessed.

Dean Essl’s long commitment to the School of Art and to The Cooper Union community is evident in his tireless efforts as its passionate champion.  I am genuinely moved and inspired by Mike’s leadership.  His commitment to take on the role of Dean feels like a turning point to me and an expression of Mike’s confidence in Cooper’s future.  I feel so fortunate to have Dean Essl as a partner in the work of advancing The Cooper Union.  Please join me in congratulating and thanking him for accepting the position of Dean of the School of Art.


  • 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.