Gloria Steinem and Salamishah Tillet in Conversation

As part of a program honoring Women’s History Month, The Cooper Union welcomed back women's and civil rights icon Gloria Steinem to a packed Great Hall on Saturday, March 18. She was joined by scholar and Pulitzer Prize-winner Salamishah Tillet for a conversation reflecting on the state of women's rights and empowerment in America today. Drawing on video from Steinem's 1992 Great Hall address, available as part of the Voices from the Great Hall Archive that launched in Spring 2022 thanks to the generous support of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the pair reflected on the progress realized since then and explored the contemporary issues that put that progress at risk.

The Cooper Union's president, Laura Sparks, joined the pair on stage towards the end of the program and moderated an audience Q&A. One of the questions came from an Idaho student whose artwork that considers the right to choose was recently pulled from a college exhibition on today's biggest health issues for violating a state anti-abortion law.

Watch the talk here.

Later that evening, the celebration of Great Women Live in the Great Hall continued with outstanding performances by headliners in music, dance, and theater. See the gallery of photos from the evening program.

The March 18th event with Steinem and Tillet was part of the Gardiner Foundation Great Hall Forum series. The program was also sponsored by the Ciafone and Argento Family and Debby & Scott Rechler / Rechler Philanthropy.

Photos by Marget Long

  • 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.