Welcome Back: Spring 2019

The below message was sent via campus mail on January 18, 2019.

Welcome back, Cooper Union!  I hope that your first week of the semester has been a good one. It has been wonderful to have our entire community back this week. I have enjoyed running into so many of you and hope that you have been as energized as I have been as we begin a new spring semester – a semester that is notable for reasons old and new. 

2019 marks the 160th anniversary of the founding of The Cooper Union

First, we are entering a milestone anniversary year for Cooper.  Peter Cooper opened the doors of the Foundation Building in April of 1859, embarking on the great experiment that would become The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.  That we continue to be grounded by his forward-thinking mindset – through 160 years of change in the city, in higher education, in the cultural and societal issues facing our nation, in the disciplines and practices in which we immerse ourselves – is simply remarkable.  It is a time to celebrate the institution’s legacy and focus on its future, and we will do so over the course of 2019, beginning this semester with Founder’s Day and Cooper Together traditions in February, and with special events in our historic Great Hall in April.  More details on these observances and community celebrations will be coming soon.

Welcome, Dean Barry Shoop

Cooper’s spring 2019 semester is also the exciting beginning of Dean Barry Shoop’s tenure leading the Albert Nerken School of Engineering.  Last May, we were delighted to announce that Dr. Shoop had accepted our offer to join The Cooper Union.  While he was incredibly generous with his time in beginning his transition to Cooper over the summer and fall months, it is particularly gratifying to be able to say that he is officially here in his new capacity.  By now, you know that Dean Shoop joins us following a long and distinguished career at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a professor and head of the department of electrical engineering and computer science.  What I have come to know about Barry is that he is committed to a purpose greater than himself, and in that respect and so many others, he is in good company here at The Cooper Union. He is a leader with vision, a collaborative approach, and a deep commitment to integrity.  Also, not surprisingly given his background, he is always on time!  Dean Shoop’s commitment to and extensive experience in engineering education and curriculum development, as well as his leadership in developing a culture of ingenuity and innovation, diversity, and cross-curricular initiatives are precisely aligned with our own strategic priorities (more on those priorities below), and I look forward to working together with him in these and many other areas. 

Please join me in welcoming Dean Shoop to The Cooper Union at a welcome gathering on Tuesday, January 29 at 1PM in the Great Hall Arcade. 

I also want to express my deep gratitude to Richard Stock, who has led the School of Engineering as its Dean since 2015 and has been an integral member of the Cooper community since his arrival here in 1994. We are stronger and smarter for Richard’s contributions over these many years.

Our Roadmap: Organizational Goals and Strategic Priorities

At the December 19 meeting of The Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees, the Board approved a set of institutional goals and strategic priorities. (Board Chair Rachel Warren shared the goals in her year-end message.)  These goals and priorities are the culmination of many avenues of exploration, evaluation, and community input.  They draw on internal and external assessments of the academic environment; the insights gleaned from the process that led to the FEC recommendations and ultimate plan to return to full-tuition scholarships; a revised mission and vision statement; completion of and feedback from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Re-Accreditation; and input and feedback on draft goals and priorities this fall from alumni, faculty, staff, students, and other community members.

The following Institutional Goals and Strategic Priorities will serve as our collective roadmap:   

Institutional Goals

  • Create an institution of excellence that:
    • engages students in an academic program that is rigorous, supportive, and dynamic
    • fosters a culture of curiosity, agency, compassion, and engagement
    • is tuition-free and financially resilient
  • Prepare students to question and lead in a complex world
  • Develop leading-edge models for higher education that consider the ethical, cultural, and environmental contexts and consequences of technical and creative disciplines
  • Lead by example to promote civil discourse and engagement on important civic issues
  • Advance the fields of Architecture, Art, and Engineering and foster intersections of study and practice among them

Strategic Priorities

  • Fortify our rigorous professional schools
  • Return Cooper Union to full-tuition scholarships
  • Create opportunities for experimentation at the intersections of disciplines
  • Increase diversity of thought, background, and experiences
  • Balance budget, build reserves, instill financial discipline
  • Develop programs, activities, and physical space to increase student engagement and improve student life
  • Set a leading-edge standard for the integration of professional, practice-based education with a humanistic and socio-political education
  • Integrate public service orientation into academics and actively contribute to the betterment of NY
  • Position the Great Hall as a premier forum to advance critical issues of our time

My sincere thanks to all of you who offered your ideas, insights, and constructive criticism along the way.  Your input and work has been and will continue to be invaluable.

Coming Soon:  Keep your eye out for information in an upcoming issue of CURRENTS about an internal grant program that’s being designed to support your ideas for advancing these goals and priorities.  The program will provide funding for projects that enhance our students’ learning experiences; our faculty’s teaching, scholarship, and practice; new ideas for our future; and opportunities for our community to come together in addressing the critical societal issues of our time.

Community Fellowship

I look forward to the opportunities we will have to gather as a community this semester.  Back by popular demand, we will offer more community dinners, scheduled for this month and next.  If you haven’t already, I hope you will sign up to attend a community dinner and enjoy an evening of nourishment and fellowship – a few hours dedicated to getting to know one another, regardless  of our interests, disciplines, or areas of study.  Also, in response to student requests, we will offer weekly breakfasts beginning in February, to alternate between 41 Cooper and the Foundation Building.  More details on that coming soon.  And a schedule of faculty gatherings will be included in the next issue of CURRENTS.

In addition, a schedule for this semester’s Office Hours is now posted.  I hope you will visit with me during these times as I have learned a great deal from you and look forward to continuing to learn from your perspectives, your challenges, and your ideas.

Lastly, I want you all to know that I appreciate and recognize that these last several months have been challenging.  Nearly a year ago, we made an ambitious choice to pursue a return to full-tuition scholarships for all students.  The work of getting there is hard and important.  Because of you and all that you contribute, we are moving closer to our goal of being able to begin increasing scholarship levels – and I am deeply grateful.  

I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2019.  May it be a year that fulfills and sustains us and all that we hope to accomplish together.

With gratitude,


  • 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.