Spring Academic Updates
Dear Cooper Union,
It’s been a troubling few days in our city. I am thankful for the swift apprehension of the subway shooting suspect; however, as I said in our alerts earlier this week, we all process this kind of unsettling news differently, and it’s important that we access the resources that can be helpful and supportive to us as well as make space for each other with kindness, care, and compassion. That same kind of mindfulness and awareness for one another is also appropriate given all that I know each of you – students, faculty, and staff – is working hard to accomplish as we move into the semester’s final weeks.
It is a time of high activity, and I have a number of updates related to our academic programs that I’d like to share.
Commencement – Wednesday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m.
We are thrilled to be planning our commencement ceremony for this year back in the Great Hall. I am also pleased to announce Jelani Cobb, Ph.D., a New Yorker staff writer and the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University’s Journalism School, will give the 2022 commencement address. To read more about Dr. Cobb, please see this story on our website. Commencement day is special for every graduating class, and after two years of disruption, the fact that we will again be able to come together for a full, traditional ceremony, complete with the pomp and circumstance that rightly celebrates the accomplishments of our graduates, means our 2022 commencement is shaping up to be particularly extraordinary.
Humanities and Social Sciences Visiting Committee Report
At the outset of this academic year, I shared that a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the Humanities & Social Sciences at The Cooper Union would be getting underway. I suggested that the review would require serious reflection, inquiry, and creativity; that it would include internal engagement and external review; and that these combined efforts would inform the opportunity to redefine what it means for professional practice to be meaningfully influenced by HSS’s longstanding commitment to providing ethical, social, and humanistic frameworks that are crucial to personal development, professional excellence, and engaged citizenship.
As part of this process, we were very fortunate to host a Visiting Committee of external scholars led by Ben Vinson, Provost at Case Western Reserve University and composed of a diverse group of seven other social scientists and humanities scholars representing a variety of disciplines and institutions. This group worked together – with a great deal of energy and care – to conduct an extensive assessment, which included a two-day, in-person visit during which the Committee interviewed all HSS full-time faculty, full-time faculty from each of our three schools, several part-time faculty, members of the administration, and students.
I am grateful to the Committee for their deep commitment to this work. I am also thankful for all the members of the Cooper community who participated in the Committee’s process. As you will see, their report shares findings and recommendations that provide a constructive reflection of where we are and an exciting roadmap for what can lie ahead. Their recommendations are specific and actionable, which means initiating change for the coming academic year and beyond can begin now.
The report is here for your review. As you read it, I ask that you consider it within the larger context of the institutional work that The Cooper Union has been pursuing over the past several years. That includes our Vision and Mission, our Institutional Goals and Strategic Priorities, and our 10-Year Planto financial stability, academic program investment, and a return to full-tuition scholarships. The Visiting Committee considered this broader context and determined that we are well positioned to move into this next chapter of reimagining the role that the humanities and social sciences can play in a professional education.
There is a lot to digest and consider in this report, and all of it is thought provoking and stimulating in the best ways. It also means that we have much to process together as a community, and to that end, we will build in opportunities for group discussions this semester and continuing into the academic year ahead. The first session is planned for Thursday, May 5 from 2-3 p.m. in Rose Auditorium; you can note your attendance here.
Engineering Advisory Council
The Engineering Advisory Council (EAC) just wrapped a two-day visit to Cooper yesterday. The EAC is composed of experts from industry, academia, and government in the fields of engineering taught at Cooper Union. This was their second annual meeting and the first opportunity to conduct their activities in person. The purpose of the EAC is to provide direct input to the School of Engineering and individual departments regarding the current and future needs of our students. My thanks to all of the participants for their time and efforts and for making their visit productive and beneficial to the school.
School of Architecture Dean Search
The School of Architecture Dean Search Committee is currently conducting first-round interviews, a process that will continue through next week. The pool of applicants is outstanding. Next, the Committee will determine a short list of candidates for this important academic leadership position, and those individuals will be invited to on-campus interviews in the coming month.
Senior Shows are in full swing in the School of Art! I hope you are taking advantage of the opportunity to attend these openings that are happening across campus on Tuesday evenings to support the work of our graduating artists.
End of Year Shows
Showcasing student work at the end of each academic year is a highly anticipated part of the Cooper experience. Students in each of our schools of architecture, art, and engineering will mount their work for all to take in, beginning May 24, in the Foundation Building and 41 Cooper. After two years of (fantastic!) virtual shows, I am so glad that students and all who support them will again have the chance to be together, in person, to celebrate each other’s work.
I am also pleased to share news with you that was just announced this morning. On Tuesday, April 26, New York City Mayor Eric Adams will be in conversation with author, podcaster, and former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara to discuss the future of NYC in a free, public program in The Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The discussion will follow the Mayor’s State of the City address, which he will deliver earlier that day, and will be broadcast on Bharara’s national podcast, “Stay Tuned with Preet.” The event is also Cooper’s 2022 John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture.
It is a remarkable time. We have much to be grateful for this year, especially our ability to have been together again for the robust academic experience that is decidedly Cooper. I will close this message as I began it: While there is much to be accomplished in these fleeting spring days, it’s important to be attentive to your need for self-care and for the care of those around you. Those are qualities that should also be decidedly Cooper as they strengthen our sense of meaningful community. I look forward to experiencing all that is ahead over these next several weeks together with you.