Free Cooper Union Disorientation Reader 2013


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Free Cooper Union Disorientation Reader 2013




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A Disorientation Reader


is a student-led counter-orientation intended to introduce you,
the incoming class of 2017/18, to the real story of Cooper’s dense
internal politics, as well as larger student issues, and to preserve
institutional memory that is all too often expunged
upon graduation.

A note on abridgement. Much of the content in this reader has been hacked and
slashed edited to fit within these tiny pages. You can access unabridged versions
of the works — and other content like videos — online.
Correct us if we’re wrong. We did our best to fact-check. But facts are often
disputed around here. We’re happy to make corrections.
There are no stupid questions. Write us an email and we will get back to you: or send us a text/voicemail: 917.746.5634

Removing Barriers Mobilizes Resources
What do elevators, undersea cables, democracy, and Cooper have in common?

Two Educations for the Price of None
An open letter to the incoming class from Jakob Biernat, Art ‘16

Free Cooper Union
Who we are and what we stand for

On the Tuition Issue
A refutation of twisted histories by Cooper’s resident historian Peter Buckley

A look at Bharucha’s track record as President

Must Love Debt
A timeline based on research by Barry Drogin, EE ‘83

Waste Makes Want
Comparative financial background by Adrian Burton Jovanovic, BSE ‘89

Faces and Places
Keep your friends close...

Spectrum of Allies
Where recognized Cooper groups stand on the issue of tuition

Stay in the Know
How to reach us and how to help us reach you.

Students in the School of Architecture painted the third floor lobby black after bearing witness to tuition.

By David Gersten, School of Architecture faculty
I THINK WE all recognize that our
Cooper Union faces an existential
“I for one, have been blessed with…a moment in education…
where I have had…a Social Contract and many of the people sitting
today in this audience, have made
my life…more understandable, because of their understanding of the
Social Contract.” —John Hejduk
It is not that: The Cooper Union holds
up free education, but that free education holds up The Cooper Union.
It is not that: we can no longer afford to: freely educate, but that we cannot afford to break the promise of Free
The largest single financial asset that the Cooper Union currently
holds is its promise of free education: TO ALL. The value contained
within this promise far exceeds our
current endowment as well as the
physical properties held by the institution including the land under the
Chrysler Building.
Our challenge and obligation, our
social contract, is to comprehend and
make more understandable how to mobilize the resources contained within
this promise.
Peter Cooper was directly involved
in countless inventions. There are
three specific inventions that offer direct lessons to the questions we face.
When this Foundation Building was

constructed it was one of the tallest
buildings in New York City. It contained
an elevator shaft that waited four years
until Elisha Otis invented the “safety elevator,” an elevator containing a
mechanism that secured the elevator
cab if the cable was cut. This securing
mechanism mitigated the risk of injury
or loss from collapse and created the
credibility necessary for the elevator to
be widely used by the public.
The safety elevator removed
the vertical barrier of walking above
eight stories and the city EXPLODED upwards, creating an entirely new
geography of human inhabitation.
Removing the vertical barrier mobilized the resources that fueled the
150-year vertical rise that is: New
York City.
Peter Cooper was also directly
involved in pulling the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable between the two
continents, compressing weeks into
seconds, in the exchange of: information and ideas. The Transatlantic
Cable removed the communications
barrier of shipping speeds and the exchange of ideas EXPLODED between
the two continents, creating an entirely new geography of human interaction and exchange. Removing the
communication barrier mobilized
the resources that fueled the 150-year
continuous transformation of Global
The massive resources invested
in creating each of these transforma-

tions were mobilized as a direct result
of removing barriers and articulating a
credible vision of the consequences of
their removal.
Peter Cooper’s years of struggle in
pulling the Transatlantic Cable were
overcome by his clarity of vision, that
through this connection, “Knowledge
shall cover the earth as waters the
Articulating this vision, keeping
this promise, required the third invention, I believe, Peter Cooper’s greatest
invention: the removal of barriers to
education. Education is by definition
a transformative pursuit, individuals
come together and engage in transformative interactions and experiences:
Knowledge evolves. Creating circumstances of proximity and interaction
among a great multiplicity of ideas and
questions, leads to mutual transformation and new forms of knowledge. In
creating the Cooper Union, Peter Cooper invested in the profound idea that
removing the barriers to education
creates a dynamic crucible of free thought
where a great diversity of people and their
questions can interact
and co-evolve, developing new linkages,
new thought processes, and new questions.
Peter Cooper understood that the barriers to education were not only unjust
to those that they excluded, but those
barriers impoverished the internal
life of an institution. Barring any
segment of the population creates
a diminished geography of human
knowledge and experience within the

educational community.
Like the vertical barrier removed
by the safety elevator, the invention
of the Cooper Union removed the artificial age limit above which people
could freely participate in the transformative interactions of education. Like
the Transatlantic Cable, the removal of
the financial barriers to education collapsed the distances within the vast and
uneven geographies of resource distribution and accumulation, bringing
into direct proximity those who would
otherwise have an ocean between
them. Removing the barriers to education creates an entirely new geography
of human: proximity, interaction and
transformation, a new geography of
knowledge and imagination. The value
and meaning of the Transatlantic Cable
and the global communications revolution that it unleashed is found in the
exchange of: knowledge and ideas that
pass through it. The Cooper Union is
Peter Cooper’s greatest transformative
invention, because it creates transfor-

It is not that we can no longer
afford to freely educate, but that
we cannot afford to break the
promise of free education.
mation itself. It is the invention that
sustains invention and contributes to
the continuously expanding universe
of knowledge that elevates mankind.
There are many forms of interaction where the introduction of a financial barrier to participation dramatical-

ly alters the meaning of the interaction.
I would offer the example of participatory democracy. While the process of
participatory democracy requires the
mobilization of vast resources, gathered
together from all of the participants, requiring an individual fee to participate
in voting would alter the meaning of
the process, to such an extent, that it
would collapse the value of participation, it would no longer be participatory
In fact, the ultimate safety device,
the mechanism that secures individual
agency and gives credibility to all forms
of collective judgment, is the: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each
and every Right guaranteed by this
United Nations declaration requires
the mobilization of resources. These
rights are of such fundamental value
to mankind that the burden of these
resources must be borne by US ALL.
Assigning an individual fee to those
who are the supposed beneficiaries of
these rights is to collapse the value of
all of our rights. I imagine this principle was in mind when crafting: Article
26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Article that designates
education as a Human Right and specifically says: “higher education shall
be equally accessible to all on the basis
of merit.” They must have been quoting
Peter Cooper.
This institution is a shining
demonstration of the transformative
powers of removing the barriers to
education. We have been pulling this
cable for 150 years and now we face
the risk that we are out of resources,
that our debt load is too heavy and the
only way to keep moving forward, may
be to “cut the cable” and introduce the

barrier of tuition. This would not be
moving forward at all, this would be a
collapse in the value of the entire endeavor. For, in this journey, there is no
other shore to reach; we are pulling the
continuously expanding geographies
of knowledge and imagination. The
distance traveled creates the geography
itself as we continue to move forward.
Cutting the cable is not the solution; we
must invent and construct the safety
mechanisms that secure the continuous evolution of knowledge without
barriers. We must articulate a credible
vision of the value and consequences
of removing the barriers to education,
and this WILL mobilize the resources
to continue the journey. As a way-finder at sea uses the force of the storm to
out-run the storm we must keep the
promise of free education to all, in order to secure the many promises of
free education to all.
In moments of existential crisis,
time has a tendency to collapse, whole
chains of events that may usually require years and decades to unfold suddenly happen overnight. If we can get
this right, if we can articulate a model
that secures the credible promise of
education without barriers, the transformative consequences will far exceed those of the “safety elevator” and
the Transatlantic Cable. We will have
shifted the trajectory, unleashing new
geographies of knowledge beyond our
wildest imaginations.
There is a city to be built rising
above the geography of our current
models of education, a city built upon
the many promises of education without barriers. A new city elevating mankind through the transformative forces
of: Knowledge, Imagination and Ideas.

An open letter to the incoming class from Jakob Biernat, Art ‘16
IT IS OFTEN written that the crisis and scandal of Cooper Union is a crystallization of a national and global struggle in higher education, most recently in
ArtInfo’s article by Ben Davis:
The attack on education in our era of austerity is a nationwide — rather,
worldwide — phenomena. Without changing the larger picture, the same forces
that are affecting institutions of higher learning everywhere are going to continue
to press Cooper. Turning the tide of policy towards respecting the value of education as a public good is the only real sustainable solution for everyone. Conversely,
accepting the inevitability of the situation at Cooper without anger only helps
further set the limits of what is “realistic” to expect from the system — which right
now isn’t working very well, saddling young people with ever-greater levels of debt
in return for pursuing their dreams.
One way or another, Cooper Union will end up being a symbol — either of an
ideal to be reached for, or of the terrible present-day wisdom that says that ideals
only matter for those who can pay.
I firmly believe this to be the case. If you’ve ever yearned to be an actor in history
rather than just a member of its audience, there is hardly a more exhilarating
place to be as a college student than here at Cooper, here in a small, swiftlybeating heart of something much larger and more long lasting than each of our
singular educations, whatever that means for each of us. This is an opportunity
to act, to do excellent things, to serve and protect a tremendously worthy and
fragile ideal.
It is also a responsibility. If the Board of Trustees has their way, you, the Class
of 2017, will be the last class admitted on a full-tuition merit based scholarship. If
those of us in the community fighting that decision have our way, you won’t be.
But either way, you all know you’ve been given an amazing gift, an unbelievable
chance. Your lives will be changed forever, I guarantee it. But that gift must be
repaid in citizenship, in contribution to our small community. It will be difficult,
extraordinarily so, to juggle your work and your participation in the politics of
the school and your personal growth, but you have to try.
By responsibility and citizenship, I mean a responsibility to try to confront
that anxiety head-on rather than avoiding it, to do the research, to look at the history of the school and particularly the history of the last two years, the problems
facing the school, the divisions, the range of possible solutions, the actions, the
words, the politics, all of it.
This is not an attempt to tell you what to think. Of course, I put my bias on
display, writing this from the Jamshed’s desk in the midst of a student direct
action against the administration. But still, I do not want what I am writing to

serve as a form of pressure, but rather as a way to help in the process of alleviating
the pressure of not-knowing. I remember that pressure vividly from being in your
shoes last year. Cooper is a lot to try to figure out, and it will take a long time to
get comfortable here. That’s part of why it’s so exciting, but current events and
circumstance can also cause a lot of anxiety.
A lot will be asked from you: good faith to your fellow classmates, who are
just as much your teachers as anyone else will be; good faith to yourself and your
work. You will make until you can’t make any more. Then you’ll make more. Then
you’ll write a couple papers. Try to take care of yourself, but know that this is
the reality. Get sleep, try to eat well. You’ll need it to get used to sleepless nights
and constant stretching of your capabilities. You’ll be taken apart, laid bare, and

“The Illuminator”
projects Peter Cooper’s
image onto the facade
of the Foundation
Building in solidarity
with the summer 2013
occupation of the
President’s office.

empowered to build again with new clarity. Your classrooms will take the diffuse
light of you and your fellow students and refocus it into something shockingly coherent, collectively, a light that lets you see farther into your work and into each
other as a community of learners, a light that makes the paths we all must take
more visible.
Please take your time. This is an urgent moment, a historic moment, but
please pay attention to yourself as well. Your responsibility is not to act rashly, but
rather to develop your understanding, to be critical, to pay attention deeply. Read.
Think. Reflect. But whatever you do, don’t ignore things. Be a member of the
school, in all the ways that the factors of physical location (little scraps of land in
the deep of Manhattan) and situation (ideological, vast, complex, widely implicating) and people (dedicated, remarkable, nourishing, challenging, sometimes
adversarial, healing, empowering) exist and create a school. Whatever results of
the attention I ask that you pay, whether or not you agree with x, y, or z, what is
essential is that you have thought about things. Don’t waste this chance.
Good luck y’all.

We are students, faculty and alumni at
The Cooper Union, organizing in response to the
unfolding tuition and student debt crisis since 2011.

Why the red clock?
In December of 2012, eleven students occupied the Foundation Building’s clock
tower for one week in order to combat the administration’s claim that adopting
tuition would be the college’s only sustainable financial model. During the lockin, students began organizing as Students For A Free Cooper Union and issued these
demands and principles (opposite page). Building off of the 2012 Quebec student
movement against tuition hikes, symbolized by the carré rouge (red square),
student occupiers at Cooper illuminated the clock tower with red lights. The red
clock has since been a symbol of Free Cooper Union supporters.


The administration must publicly affirm the college’s commitment to free
education. They will stop pursuing new tuition-based educational programs
and eliminate other ways in which students are charged for education.


The Board of Trustees must immediately implement structural changes with
the goal of creating open flows of information and democratic decision-making structures. The administration’s gross mismanagement of the school
cannot be reversed within the same systems which allowed the crisis to
occur. To this end, we have outlined actions that the board must take:
• Record board meetings and make minutes publicly available.
• Appoint a student and faculty member from each school as voting members of the board.
• Implement a process by which board members may be removed through
a vote from the Cooper Union community, comprised of students, faculty,
alumni, and administrators.


President Bharucha steps down.

Higher Education Bubble
The over-inflated costs of higher education have placed more than a trillion dollars of debt onto the backs of students. Higher education should be a means of social mobility and intellectual liberation, but it has devolved into an industry that
exploits students for profit. Inevitably this bubble will burst and what appears to
be a healthy and growing educational system will be revealed as a model that was
always doomed to fail.

Grow Down
The administrators who have grown us into this mess are trying to grow us out of
it. Investing in the higher education bubble is short-sighted and uncreative. Playing a larger role in one’s community provides strong roots. If we refuse to invest
in a growth model and reaffirm our mission, we stand to see the principles of free
education bring life back to our own community and other institutions as well.

Structures for Transparency and Integrity
Bloated and visionless administrations have become an epidemic threatening
institutions of higher education all across America. We must rebuild the governance of these institutions with open flows of information and democratic decision-making structures. Carrying a mission such as free education will require
principled, rather than self-sustaining, leadership.

Seniors turn their backs on Bharucha as he speaks at graduation

On Peter Cooper’s birthday, holding a surprise resignation party for Bharucha.

Painting a still-life during the lock-in.

Under threat of losing their degrees if they didn’t vacate, occupying students link arms to show that
they’re not budging. It worked. The occupation lasted for two months, ending in a negotiated agreement

Excerpts by Peter Buckley, humanities faculty, vice-president of the
full-time faculty union, and historian of The Cooper Union
COOPER UNION WAS established
as a free school in almost all of its educational activities. The night schools
of art and science were always free,
and explicitly made so in the founding
documents. The Day School of Art for
Women, originally called the Female
School of Design, has a more complex
history that is worth examining in close
detail given the way that the very small
numbers of fee paying students admitted to the school have been shoved into
a Trojan horse and wheeled into Peter
Cooper’s founding intent.
Whereas those students in the
Night School, presumed to be already
at work, could use Cooper Union to improve their careers and fortunes, some
women in the Day School could use
their art courses to preserve their class
location. Both the industrial (free) and
amateur (paying) students in the Female School of Design needed each other according to the women’s advisory
council, which served as a supplementary level of trusteeship: the wealthier among the students could provide
models of social refinement and funds,
whereas the more unfortunate could
provide examples of seriousness of
By the tenth annual report, the
emphasis on training for “self-support”
had been firmly re-established and the
vestiges of the amateur class were removed:
“On the whole, the attempt to
instruct women in Art, with a view
to securing a livelihood, may be pro-

nounced a success, but the conditions
of success are in this the same as in all
other pursuits, unwearied devotion to
the work to be done. The only failures
which occur, aside from the want of
natural capacity, are due solely to the
lack of industry and perseverance on
the part of the pupil. Such failures
occur quite as often with men as with
women, and hence the Trustees see
no cause for discouragement in the
attempt to educate the latter for a
career of honest industry in the arts
of design. The cost of conducting
the school during the last year, for
instruction, has been $5,118.19. The
instruction is absolutely gratuitous,
and no paying pupils have been or
will hereafter be received. (Annual
Report v10, 1869.)”
From 1870, “free” was added to the official title of the day school.
By 1869 then, all courses that led
to certificates, diplomas or, eventually, degrees were free. The 1902/3 date
floated by the Office of the President
is designed, for legal and ideological
purposes, to separate free tuition from
the era and intent of the founder. The
date refers to the new day school of
technology that only started in 1902.
The school could not have been free
before 1902 because it didn’t exist!
The President is overly keen to establish a new history of free tuition at
Cooper Union to make sure that the
mission of the whole college is only a
matter of Carnegie’s cash rather than
Cooper’s conviction.

Is Bharucha still ‘salvageable’ as President? Could
he conceivably change his course to save Cooper
Union with its mission of “Free Education to All”?
It’s worth looking back at Bharucha’s track record
to assess whether or not he is fit to lead.

Bharucha has never supported
the mission.
He refuses to recognize the value of tuition-free education or its role in the history
of Cooper Union. He has never stated that
returning to a tuition-free institution is a goal
or priority. On the eve of his inauguration, he
ordered the mission statement be changed
on, to omit the section about merit-based full-tuition scholarships being granted
to all admitted students.

Bharucha has not delivered
on repeated promises about
transparency in decisionmaking
On September 21st, 2012 the Office of the
President introduced “Board Reports” to “provide information about decisions and other
outcomes that result from the quarterly Board
of Trustees meetings.” Only one board report
has ever been published.

Bharucha has not acknowledged
the Board’s financial negligence.
Despite numerous articles published on
Cooper’s financial decisions in light of the Vote
of No Confidence, there has been no communication from the Board of Trustees to claim
responsibility for their negligence. Bharucha
has blamed the alumni, students, faculty and
community and approved of passing debt onto
future students.

Bharucha cherry-picks from
history to support his agenda.
In 1902 after Andrew Carnegie gave his large
donation to Cooper, it was decided that all
admitted students would receive full tuition
scholarships because of the “insidious divide”
between the paying and non-paying students.

Bharucha has marginalized and
disregarded the voices and alternative models of the student,
faculty, staff, and alumni community over the last two years.

1. The Way Forward
The Way Forward is a document put together
by alumni, students, professors and faculty
that go by Friends of Cooper Union (FOCU). It
was a first attempt by community members to
put forward an alternative to the tuition-based
models that Bharucha has been promoting
since October 2011. FOCU did the best they
could with virtually no acces to Cooper’s
official finances. Instead of welcoming the
effort and trying to galvanize the community,
Bharuch deemed it a “laughing stock”, his
response lacks the same good-faith effort put
into writing the document. The Way Forward
hold true to the mission, Peter Cooper’s ideals
and the spirit, creativity and resilience of the
2. Within Our Mission, Within Our Means
Art faculty “within our mission, within our
means” discussions with the Faculty of the
Whole (all 4 schools) were cut short by threats
to shut down the School of Art. As retribution
for going against the administration, Bharucha
and the board moved to deferral of early
decision School of Art applicants midway the
admissions cycle.
3. Faculty ‘coercion’
In 2011, the deans of the three degree-granting
schools were charged with coming up with
revenue generating academic programs as a
part of President Bharucha’s “reinvention.”
The faculty were forced to design revenue
generating programs. The Art faculty, refusing
to endorse their plans issued a statment in
support of the mission. Despite open access
to their plans, Bharucha refused to pass them
onto the Board until the Art faculty publicly
endorsed them. Bharucha often says that he
won’t to do anything “without the support of
his faculty”, it is clear he is willing to secure
“support” by any means necessary.
With more than 2,500 votes of “no confidence”
in Bharucha, including votes passed by the
School of Art, and School of Art Full-Time

faculty, as well as a majority of the Faculty of
the Humanities vote of no confidence in “the
leadership” of the institution, what is lacking
is an earnest engagement with the community
in generating solutions which uphold the
mission of free education to all.

Bharucha maintains an oppressive and policing environment.
Increased private security measures to keep
alumni out and to monitor students, faculty
and their gatherings.
Multiple instances of armed guards in the
building without informing deans, students,
parents, and faculty.
Confiscation and/or dismantling of approved
artwork from classrooms, hallways and exhibition spaces.
Adjunct faculty (who make up the majority
of faculty) having had their jobs threatened if
they sign the vote of no confidence.
Student arrested while trying to leave Foundation Building during a protest she was not
involved in (Sarah Abruna, 2011).

Bharucha has failed to articulate
a vision for the future of Cooper.
On May 11, 2013 Bharucha reiterated his fivepoint vision of the school:
“a student body that thrives on an intimate,
immersive, rigorous conservatory-style education; a unique set of schools; a commitment
to access for those who can least afford it;
the historic Great Hall; and the most vibrant
location on earth.”
This is merely a description, not a vision.

Bharucha can’t explain
free education to donors.
Bharucha doesn’t know what goes on in our
classes or how our education happens. Why
is he the one talking to Bloomberg and other
potential large donors? How can we expect
him to sell the school to donors if he can’t even
talk about the school passionately.
President Bharucha doesn’t believe that
Cooper’s full-tuition scholarship is necessary,
he believes it to be resource that’s run dry. How
can Bharucha sell the egalitarian vision of ‘free
education for all’ to donors if he doesn’t even

believe in it. Trustee Mike Borkowsky has very
elegantly described his feelings about Cooper:
“I got a degree in mechanical engineering from
Cooper and never spent a moment of my working life as a mechanical engineer or as any
other kind of engineer. Given that fact, many
people wonder why I have spent so much of
my life involved with the school. It is because
Cooper Union embodies, in my mind, the ideal
of higher education. You put 1,000 of the
brightest, most creative young people together,
with no regard for their economic status or
personal backgrounds, challenge them to
work as hard as they can, to collaborate rather
than compete with each other, give them the
opportunity to interact fully with faculty, set
them all in the dynamic environment of New
York City and do it with no charge for tuition
and you have an institution of learning that is
unique in all the world and must be saved.”

Bharucha has diffused
accountability and blame
Bharucha’s administration is heavily stacked
and growing. He is the singular bottleneck
between the Cooper community and the Board,
he has withheld information from both parties
and continually misrepresents the Cooper
community by casting it in a bad light. Instead
of confronting engagements with the community, he issues Vice President TC Wescott to
speak on his behalf, he has since fired her.

Bharucha has, on two occasions,
given exclusive statements to
the New York Times with announcements about the future
of the college before addressing
the Cooper community.
Bharucha continually manipulates the press,
using them to cement decisions in place where
consensus has not been reached. On Tuesday,
April 22nd the New York Times tweeted: “Cooper Union Will Charge Tuition for Graduate
Students.” Bharucha announced a plan to
move forward with a “Hybrid Model” where
graduate programs and online courses will
be expanded and offered for a fee. A schoolwide announcement from Bharucha was
sent at 12:14pm, the NYT tweet was posted at
12:22pm.Bharucha had announced his plan to
the media before even consulting the Cooper

Based on an article by Barry Drogin, EE ‘83
President Richard Humphreys expressed concern about the finances
of the school, recommended against
developing graduate programs and new
Under President John White, Cooper
Union revised its charter to no longer
make trustees personally liable for the
college’s debts, and to allow the college
to take out large building loans.
The first loan from DASNY (Dormitory
Authority of the State of New York) financed a renovation of the Foundation
Building by John Hejduk plunging the
college into deficit, forcing the sale of
Green Camp, and the elimination of the
physics and night degree programs.
Under President Bill Lacy the faculty
union that formed after the elimination
of the physics degree was threatened
with elimination, the case lost in court.
President John Iselin oversaw the construction of a dormitory for out-of-state
students using a second DASNY loan
that again plunged the college
into deficit.
President George Campbell established
tuition at The Cooper Union in order
to become eligible for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds for needy

2001-2011 (cont.)
An ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review
Procedure) process, allowing Cooper
to lease out some properties for luxury
and commercial development during
the development of the New Academic
Building (NAB) was approved.
New York State Supreme Court allowed
Cooper to increase its debt significantly
by mortgaging the Chrysler Building.
Cooper Union got the loan, paid off the
DASNY bonds, guaranteed a maximum
price for construction of the NAB, and
invested heavily in hedge funds.
In 2006, the Board renegotiated the 150
year Chrysler Building lease with Tishman (started in 1999) so that payments
would platueau incrementally, the first
bump is scheduled for 2018.
The crash of 2008 resulted in huge losses in the investment portfolio, delays in
construction at 51 Astor, and a sudden
drop-off in charitable contributions.
Press and trustees were told that Cooper
had survived the crash and was “in
the black,” expenditures continued to
rise resulting in the largest deficits the
Cooper Union had ever known.
2011Jamshed Bharucha was elected by the
board of trustees to “reinvent” the
With five years until the bump the
college is cash-poor in unrestricted
endowment funds, despite previous
claims of financial stability.

By Adrian Burton Jovanovic, BSE ‘89
In a sworn Cy Pres Petition statement to the
NYS Supreme Court in 2006, the Cooper Union
Board of Trustees petitioned for the right
to borrow $175 million against the Chrysler

The recent decision to institute tuition not
only runs counter to the 150 year mission of
the school, but also potentially jeopardizes the
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payments
Cooper Union has been receiving from the City
of New York.

In the Cy Pres they committed to reducing operating expenditures by 10%
by 2011.
Instead, expenses steadily rose from $43.7
million in 2006 to $66.8 million in 2010
(excluding debt service & depreciation
the rise was from $39.4m to $49.8m).

Meanwhile, the message broadcast by Cooper
Union in Wall St. Journal and New York Times
articles was that they had attained financial
stability, pointing to a huge but misleading
increase in the endowment as a result of the
way the Chrysler building was handled on the

Studies have shown that once schools start
charging tuition, the tuition keeps increasing,
regardless of the financial aid provided. The
current administration has not emphasized
support for the free tuition mission and
instead has pushed to build a “global brand” to
realize the “enormous untapped potential” of
Cooper Union.

In 2006 CU Development spent $2.2
million to raise $18.7 million ($0.12 per
$1 raised).
In 2012 CU Development spent $3.9
million to raise $7.5 million ($0.52 per $1
According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education
(C.A.S.E.), it should cost about $0.17 to
raise a dollar.

From the above it seems clear that the Cooper
Union Administration and Trustees have a lot
of work to do to regain the trust of the Cooper
community. They need to:

In 1998 the CU President’s compensation
was $205,047 / yr, now it is $647,330/ yr.
In 2009 the President’s salary was in
the top 10 nationally (relative to school


From 2005 to 2010, CU full-time faculty
wages stayed roughly the same at
about $5m.

From 2005 to 2010, CU non-faculty salaries and wages went from about $12.5m
to $17.5m.
Cost of benefits went from $2.5m in
2002 to $10m in 2012, an unsustainable

Defined benefit plans such as CU’s have
been converted out by many other
companies (people are living longer &
medical expenses higher than when
plans started back in the 60s).



Seriously scale back spending (oddly the
Expense Reduction Task force limited the
reduction target to 12% and declared off
bounds some of the most important areas
for expense reduction, including administrative headcount and benefits).
Seriously engage with important constituencies including unions to address key
issues such as Cooper’s unsustainable
and antiquated defined benefit plan.
Fundraise to preserve free tuition (a
capital campaign to help preserve free
tuition should actually have been done
before the historic mission of free tuition
was announced as suspended).

Until the Cooper Union administration gets
its house in order it seems unlikely that major
donors (or any donors) will feel comfortable
giving to their full potential.


Peter Cooper
Mark Epstein
Board Chairman

George Campbell
Former President

T.C. Westcott
Former Vice President of
Finance, Administration
and Treasurer

Associate Dean
School of Arch.

School of Art

Foundation Building
Needs no introduction

Jamshed Bharucha
Current President

Lawrence Cacciatore
Chief of Staff and Secretary
to the Board Of Trustees

Former Interim
School of Eng.

41 Cooper Square
a.k.a. New Academic

Mike Borkowsky
Jeff Gural
Trustees who started the
anti-tuition working group

School of Eng.

30 Cooper Square
Admin Offices

Derek Wittner
Vice President
of Development

Humanities Fac.

Jody Grapes
Former Dir. of
Buildings and Grounds

Former Dean
of Students

President’s Residence

Steve “Dean”

Green Camp
Sold in 1970s

Board of Trustees

governs the college by establishing broad policies and objectives. Cooper’s board
is composed of about twenty unpaid members that meet about four times a year.
The board appoints the President.


are college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the
institution separate from the faculty. Administrative responsibilities include
academic affairs, school finances, fundraising, public affairs, and press.
Administrative bloat is a term used for the inflated administrative ratios in recent
years. Between 1993 and 2007, spending on administration rose twice as fast as
funding for research and teaching at 198 leading U.S. universities.
At a time where college budgets are tight, students are amassing record debt, and
tuition is skyrocketing, the ratio of administrators to faculty has jumped up in
the past decade: across universities nationwide employment of administrators
has risen 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured

Tenured professors

refers to a senior professor’s contractual right not to have their position terminated without just cause. In 1975, 57% of all college professors had tenure or were on
a tenure track, in 2007, that number had fallen to 31%.

Adjunct professors

are part-time, non-salaried, non-tenure track faculty members who are paid for
each class they teach. Adjuncts have no office or materials or supplies, limited
technology and administrative support, are not paid for office hours, and have no
job security since they are often hired per class. Studies have also shown that sustained interaction with faculty members beyond the classroom directly correlates
with measures of student success such as retention and progress toward degree.


are an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common
goals such as protecting the integrity of their trade, achieving higher pay, increasing the number of employees and employer hires, and bettering working conditions. Unions in general are in decline in the United States, academic unions in
particular are under attack, and a large majority of faculty members hold parttime, nontenurable jobs that benefit from collective bargaining power.
Some campuses have made it difficult for faculty and staff to organize and have a
voice as decisions have become more centralized within institutions.


These channels are all easy to unsubscribe from, so try them all out
and drop what doesn’t work for you.
1. Text DISORIENTATION to 917.746.5634

You’ll get a text back asking for your name and email. Fill that in and you’ll have
added yourself to our contact database. That way we can reach you individually.

2. Text @FreeCooperUnion to 23559

Moderated text loop for meeting and action announcements.

3. Follow @FreeCooperUnion &
This is us on Twitter and Facebook.

4. Fill out the form at
Tell us how you’re able to help.

5. Fill out the form at
Sign up form for infrequent email announcements.

6. Join
Facebook groups full of lively discussion about Cooper.
Great place to ask questions.

7. Contribute to

The open wiki where we wrote this guide and do lots of planning.
Feel welcome to poke around and contribute!

8. Email us

Group email address. Please do get in touch if you have questions.

9. Visit
Online version of this guide, with extended materials.


Item sets