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2018 End-of-Year Message from Board Chair Rachel L Warren

December 19, 2018

To The Cooper Union Community:

Earlier today, the Board of Trustees held its last meeting of 2018.  As we close out the year, I would like to take this opportunity to review some of the highlights and notable accomplishments.  First though, the Board has asked me to convey our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the entire Cooper community for your support and contributions.

Thank you for all that you do, each day, in ways big and small, to make a difference here.  We know that you are doing more with less.  We know that the restructuring of staff, departments, office space, and lockers has been difficult.  We know that you are working in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago.  We know that you are under enormous pressure – to stretch and accommodate new approaches, to consider new ideas, to raise money and save money, to give, to lead, to support one another, to learn and engage academically, and to continually move The Cooper Union forward.  We also know and sincerely appreciate that you have accepted the challenges and exceeded our expectations.

Because of all that you are doing and all that you have been open to, there is a positive sea-change underway, a notable change in perspective both inside and increasingly outside of the institution.  You helped achieve the financial goals of fiscal year 2018; you’re doing the hard work that’s got us on track for fiscal year 2019; and with that continued success, Cooper will be able to begin increasing scholarship levels again as early as next year.  So, on behalf of my fellow Trustees, thank you.

Just to recap, 2018 marked important votes for the Trustees, including:

  • The Board’s unequivocal commitment to and adoption of a plan to return to full-tuition scholarships;
  • Approval of the FY20 Tuition & Fees Schedule with a 0% increase in undergraduate tuition and fees;
  • Approval, at today’s meeting, of our Organizational Goals to:
    • 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

Having established these goals, we now have a clear roadmap for moving forward.

We have some Board updates as well.  Currently, the Board is composed of 20 Trustees, representing alumni and non-alums; students; architects, engineers, and artists; a direct descendant of Peter Cooper; and the child of an alumnus.  We represent a broad array of experience and expertise.  At our meeting today, Robert Tan (AR’81) termed off as an Alumni Trustee (Thank you, Robert, for your tireless work, dedication, and commitment to Cooper!), and we elected two new Trustees:

Dwight McBride:  Dwight serves as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, Distinguished Affiliated Professor of English, and Associated Faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  A leading scholar of race and literary studies, Dwight has published award-winning books, essays, articles, and edited volumes that examine connections between race theory, black studies, and identity politics. Dwight received his undergraduate degree in English with a certificate in African American Studies at Princeton University. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.  See Dwight’s full bio.

Cristina Ross (AR’81):  Cristina is an architect practicing in New Canaan, CT, and a graduate of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.  As an architect, Cristina has worked with corporate, healthcare, education, and residential clients. She has also worked in historic preservation; this work inspired her book Midcentury Houses Today (Monacelli Press, 2014).  Prior to setting up her own practice, Cristina worked for several architectural firms and in corporate management of construction and design for J.P. Morgan.  Cristina’s husband, Martin Ross, M.D., is a fellow Cooper Union alumnus.  Cristina was nominated by the CUAA to serve as an elected Alumni Trustee.   See Cristina’s full bio.

We welcome them both!

It is truly an exciting time for Cooper Union and to be a part of the Cooper family.  We have accomplished a great deal, working together with a common purpose and shared mission.   It was wonderful to raise a glass in celebration of all things Cooper at last night's CUAA/Board of Trustees holiday party. To see so many alumni, faculty, staff, and students in joyful spirit under one roof was truly a gift.

Now, for a last-minute holiday gift tip: a contribution before year’s end to Cooper’s Annual Fund will be the gift that keeps on giving… to our students, especially.  Make your gift today.  And if you have already done so this season, thank you!

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and hoping they are filled with all that brings you peace and joy. 

Sincerely,

Rachel L. Warren
Chair, Board of Trustees

  • 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.