A Message From the Dean | COVID-19 Update

POSTED ON: March 23, 2020

Empty 3rd Floor Lobby, Image Credit: Chong Gu, AR '20

Empty 3rd Floor Lobby, Image Credit: Chong Gu, AR '20

Dear Members of the faculty, staff and students:

It has been an extraordinary Spring Break, unprecedented in all ways, and a moment of reckoning. This is an experience that defines our time, beyond Cooper Union and NYC, something global and far reaching. I wanted to reach out to you now, as we enter into the second half of our Spring Semester, even though many aspects of our journey together remain to be defined.

Some elements have been put into place, and we should all be prepared for them. We are all going to be operating on online platforms for the rest of the semester, so I counsel everyone to get comfortable with TEAMS, ZOOM, WEME and other necessary technologies, if only to be able to expedite their protocols. 

Much to my dismay, the traditional commencement ceremonies and all official spring programming have been cancelled, including in-person final reviews and the End of Year Show.

TAKE NOTE: we are continuing some elements of our lecture series through livestreams and other interfaces. Stay tuned for that, as Lorena del Rio helps recast that for us. These lectures will be open to many other schools in the Northeast, so it is also a good opportunity to get to know other students and faculty in the region. President Laura Sparks will also let us know more about the commencement ceremonies with ideas about how to refashion them, online, or otherwise later at the end of the summer perchance. Stay tuned!

Our mission in the coming days, weeks and months is to confront the many pedagogical challenges with a sense of perspective: sufficient tolerance to boldly make mistakes and learn from them, to communicate like we have never before through any means necessary (drawing, speaking, writing and gesticulating if need be), to think creatively, to experiment, to explore and speculate through new means and methods, and to use the intimacy of our community to imagine other scales of conversation we may continue to maintain. The new circumstances require us to think and act in ways we have not been confronted with before, so I simply ask you to address the possibilities boldly without fear of failure.

As we navigate these new circumstances, please do not hesitate to reach out with ideas. If they involve new tools, we can test them. Whether as students, faculty or administrators, we will all have a lot to learn from a new way of working together. Your tenacity and resilience is a critical factor in this process, and all that I ask for from you is ample humor and humility to take on things we would not conventionally confront. As you cross certain bridges, please share both your successes and failures; we are all in need of testing things out, but your direct experiences matter to us.

Remember: none of us are in this alone. There are resources to support you.

  • Use us, your deans, as resources. Let’s talk through questions and problems. Call, text, email, message us.
  • IT is working around the clock to ensure your technology is available and ready. If you have any questions about that, ask.  Marget Long can field your questions or email IT Support.
  • For students – just because you are not on campus physically doesn’t mean you shouldn’t access all of the resources available to you in the Office of Student Affairs, or through the Library or Writing Center, etc. All of the same staff are ready to support you – just reach out through email or phone.
  • For faculty – use our school administrators as resources as well as Human Resources for any questions or concerns.

We should expect that implications of COVID-19 will continue to change quickly. Please keep a close watch on your Cooper email and on www.cooper.edu for updates that may come as frequently as daily, particularly as state and city governments continue to evolve requirements and guidance in the effort to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus.

Above all, be well. Be mindful of your health and those around you. And please follow all the important CDC instructions for maintaining social distance (6 ft. from others), washing hands thoroughly and often, disinfecting work, study and frequently touched surfaces, coughing and sneezing into elbows not hands, etc. 

As always, I am humbled by being here amongst you all; you have all shown great latitude during the last few weeks. I thank Hayley Eber endlessly in her remote presence; her responses have been immediate in all matters. I thank Monica and Robyn in their disciplined maintenance of school matters. They will continue to work remotely also, and attendant to all questions that arise. I am currently stationed in Boston in physical isolation, but available 24/7 at nader.tehrani@cooper.edu. As the situation evolves, I will know if I can revisit my normal weekly schedule in NYC.


Nader Tehrani, Dean

  • 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.