President's Welcome Back Message

September 03, 2012

Welcome back to a new academic year! To our incoming class of 2016, we celebrate your joining our community and becoming part of The Cooper Union’s tradition of excellence and innovation.

In my first year as President, I have been moved by the stories of the transformational power of a Cooper Union education. In all of these conversations with students, faculty, staff and alumni, I am impressed by the accomplishments of the members of our community, and with the passion they bring to their work.

This is a particularly invigorating time in New York City and for The Cooper Union’s disciplines of architecture, art, engineering and humanities and social sciences. Institutions of higher education from New York and around the world are seeking to establish themselves within the Bloomberg administration’s bold new eco-system in applied science, design and innovation. With our history of innovative programs and distinguished graduates, we at Cooper Union are poised to help craft this exciting future. In consultation with the City, we are developing proposals that build on our unique multidisciplinary perspective in design.

Meanwhile, we must position the institution to survive and thrive far into the future. Now that an array of ideas for reinvention have been proposed, the primary focus of our planning in the Fall semester will be for the faculty of each school to agree on a plan that is appropriate for the school, that ensures its future academic excellence based on a compelling vision, and that is financially sustainable. At the same time, we must take full advantage of the unique synergies between our four faculties. The faculty is entrusted with developing and stewarding the educational experience our students enjoy. Thus no plan can succeed without the support of the faculty. The goal is for the faculty to agree on a set of plans, working closely with Vice President Westcott and myself, by November 15, so that that I can make recommendations to the Board of Trustees for their December meeting. By putting our minds together in a spirit of constructive, civil discourse, we have an historic opportunity to ensure that each school at Cooper can be sustained well into the future so that generations of graduates can continue to go out and do good in the world.

The parameters for the financial sustainability of our academic programs have been shared with the academic deans and the faculty. They include: $12 million in new programmatic revenues, allocated across our three schools in rough proportion to their operating costs; an ambitious agenda for continuing education and public programs that fully utilizes our facilities and our academic potential; and enhanced fund-raising, including an estimated $130 million over ten years in new contributions from the annual fund, foundations and corporations, planned gifts, capital gifts and gifts to the endowment.

As I did last year, I invite you to sign up for group discussions in my office, so that I may answer questions, share information, and hear your thoughts. Please click on one of the following links (students, faculty, staff, alumni/parents) to sign up. I have found that the interactivity of these small group settings is highly effective for sorting out complex challenges such as the ones we face and for getting to know one another. You may also sign up for a financial information session conducted by Vice President Westcott.

If you are just arriving or you and I did not get a chance to meet personally last year, please introduce yourself. I look forward to meeting you!

  • 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.