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COVID-19
Most news has been moved to this News Archive.

Special COVID-19 Edition

April 7, 2020, 10:30am

Cooper Pioneer

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Cooper Reels from COVID-19

Since January 29, 2020, The Cooper Union has been keeping the college community informed about the pandemic and, like all colleges, instituting enormous changes as the virus has come to the US (they maintain a page at http://cooper.edu/about/safety/coronavirus-covid-19). Cooper has also set up a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

The Cooper campus started to close on Saturday, March 13, 2020, at the start of spring break, with all academic and administrative buildings closed by Sunday, March 22, 2020. The college reported the first campus case on March 16, 2020, a visiting professor in the School of Architecture who had last been on campus on March 10, 2020. The first "presumptive positive" case of a student was reported on April 6, 2020; the student had not been on campus since March 12, 2020.

On March 18, 2020, Cooper reported that the May Commencement ceremony, End of Year Show, Senior Shows and Exhibitions, and all other events were cancelled. A future celebration of the Class of 2020 is promised. Students in the Residence Hall were given the option of vacating by March 29, 2020, or being relocated in the building to better accommodate social distancing rules. Students who left received prorated refunds of housing costs.

On March 23, 2020, Cooper commenced an Independent Study Week while faculty prepared for on-line learning using MicroSoft Teams.

Around March 27, 2020, a collective of art students submitted a letter to President Sparks, Dean Chamberlin, and Associate Dean Farmiga (the Alumni Pioneer is attempting to obtain a copy of the letter), which was responded to by School of Art Dean Mike Essl. On March 30, 2020, with the recommendation of all four faculties and approval of the deans and president, all classes were changed to Pass (P) / No Credit (NC).


Non-Cooper Resources

Barry Drogin, publisher of the Alumni Pioneer, has set up a Cooper Union COVID-19 Facebook Group. It is a moderated Facebook group for the entire Cooper Union Community: alumni, students, faculty, staff (including administration), parents, etc. It is especially for people seeking help and people volunteering to help. Within hours of its founding, a Cooper alumnus working at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx posted a call for those with 3D printers to help make face shields and other protective equipment.

In non-Cooper news, Drogin has also set up a COVID-19: NYC Resources page that is updated daily. Feel free to share the page with those inside New York City who are inside and outside of the Cooper Community. A press release can be found here.


Great Hall Rebroadcasts (Cooper Union On Demand)

  • Daniel Arsham: Intro, Lecture - This was the last Great Hall lecture
  • Preet Bharara: Intro, Lecture - This is the first in the "Cooper Union On Demand" series

  • September 2016: Progress, but Slow or Delayed

    A summary of news put out by the CUAA itself and, in some cases embedded in documents but never highlighted, by CU itself. Consider it the CUAA version of ďAt Cooper Union,Ē written by an alumnus for alumni.

    This content has been moved to a news archive:
    3/18: Ten Year Path Back to Free Approved by Board
    2/18: Annual Report of the Financial Monitor
    1/18: Alumni First to Provide Feedback on Free Education Committee Report
    12/15: Supreme Court Judge: Motion Granted, Case Dismissed
    - BOT, CSCU, OAG "commendably" fashioned Consent Decree; "some Trustees and/or others may have lost sight of Peter Cooper's ideals"
    9/15: Attorney General: Blame the Board of Trustees and their Presidents
    - Elected Faculty, Staff, More Students and More Alumni to Become Trustees
    6/15: Preident, Former Board Chair, Four Additional Board Members Resign
    5/15: Lame Duck President Continues to Tout Tuition Plan
    - Faculty-Student Senate, Alumni Association Call for Immediate Replacement
    - Libeskind Tried to Censor Slavin in Violation of Charter
    12/14: CUAA Council, Frozen Out of Alumni Website, Mailing List, Goes Independent
    - Barry Drogin's Extraordinary Service to The Cooper Union
    - CNN Films: IVORY TOWER Asks - Is College Worth the Cost?
    - Committee to Save Cooper Union
    1/14: Board of Trustees Reject Cooper Union Community Bailout
    12/13: Working Group Comes Up With Tuition-Free Plan
    - Working Group Plan Endorsements
    9/13: Cost-Cutting to be Focus of Anti-Tuition Working Group
    - Who is "Cooper Union"?
    - Alumni Giving Part II: The "Regular Contributor" and Other Myths 7/13: New CUAA President and Executive Committee Hit the Ground Running
    - Administration Embarks on Summer Hiring Spree
    6/13: June 2013 State of the Union
    - Free Saturday Program Wins Reprieve with $1,000,000 Trustee Donation
    - Statement from adjunct faculty
    - Short-term "Solution" Used to Force Long-Term "Solution"
    - Half-Decades of Non-Income Assets (construction loans)
    - New Anti-Tuition Alumni Trustee/New President Salary/Free 154 Years/40% Alumni Giving: "Oh shit."
    5/13: Bharucha Calls for Healing, but Epstein Threatens Extinction
    - Joint Statement from the Leadership of CUFCT, CUOP, and U@CU
    4/13: Cooper Undergraduate Education: Eighty Thousand Dollars
    12/12: Is Peter Cooper History?
    - Clueless Students Obscure Friends of Cooper Union Message
    - Pearson Molds Propaganda Campaign


    Cooper Pioneer

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    Inspired Writing

    Why Cooper Union Matters
    Litia Perta
    The Brooklyn Rail

    The Way Forward
    Cooper Union Community
    Friends of Cooper Union

    Open Letter to the Trustees
    Sean Cusack
    Cooper Union Task Force

    2015 Student Commencement Address
    Harrison Cullen
    Free Cooper Union

    Save Cooper Union and
    You Can't Just End an Era
    Sangamithra Iyer
    n+1

    When the financial crisis was first announced, Litia Perta wrote an articulate, contextualizing article for The Brooklyn Rail that lucidly expressed for all the various underpinnings of the situation. Soon thereafter, Sangu Iyer started writing a series of articles in her blog, Literary Animal, about The Cooper Union, including original research in the Cooper archives about the "amateur class." As the Board of Trustees delayed their final announcement, Sangu penned a great summary of the entire crisis, from the early days of the college up through the clocktower occupation and its aftermath. She provided an update after the Sit-In ended. These articles serve as must-read bookends to the crisis, from two of its most knowledgable writers.

    These have been paired with three other Cooper Union documents: the community-authored "The Way Forward" from the Friends of Cooper Union, an Open Letter to the Trustees by Sean Cusack of Cooper Union Task Force, and the 2015 Student Commencement Address by Harrison Cullen of Free Cooper Union.

    Summer 2012 Student's Guide to The Cooper Union Financial Crisis playlist: http://tinyurl.com/canbgkt




    Required Reading

    Fixing College Through Lower Costs and Better Technology
    The Lost Decade
    New York Times/Chronicle of Higher Education

    Behind the Three-Decade Scheme to Raise Tuition, Bankrupt Generations, and Hypnotize the Media
    Administrative Bloat and Income Inequality
    Salon

    Stop Misusing Higher Education-Specific Price Indices
    HEPI, HECA, and CPI
    Center for College Affordability and Productivity

    Beware Higher Edís Newest Budget Twist
    Responsibility Centered Management
    NEA Higher Education Journal

    Conventional Wisdom is Killing Us
    Ignore Reformers and Reinforce Relationships
    Inside Higher Ed

    Just in case you think The Alumni Pioneer is written by a bunch of disgruntled alumni hanging on desperately to the "cherished aspect" of free education at The Cooper Union, we highly recommend you "get educated" by reading what others think.

    Favorite Abraham Lincoln Quote #1:
    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

    Favorite Abraham Lincoln Quote #2:
    Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.


    Cooper Pioneer

    Headlines

    Analyses

    Other

    Page 2

    Webcomics

    News Archive

    Original Analyses, Research, and Reporting (click here for abstracts)

    Past
  • Cooper
  • 2007 Strategy
  • Deficit Spending
  • Timeline
  • HEPI
  • Inauguration 10/18/11
  • Bharucha
  • Payroll
  • Trustees
  • Halloween 10/31/11
  • Bharucha Q&A
  • Narratives
  • Reinvention
  • Open Forum 11/8/11
  • Epstein Q&A
  • Fee vs. Tuition
  • WNYC 11/23/11
  • Cooper Voices
  • PR Questions
  • Summit 12/5/11
  • Summary
  • PPS1, PPS2, PDF
  • FLV1,FLV2,FLV3
  • Selected Slides
  • Address 12/13/11
  • Urtak Poll
  • Fantasy Address
  • Summary 12/16/11
  • Board Summary
  • PR Questions 2
  • Administrators
  • Summit II 4/26/12
  • Austerity
  • Philanthropy
  • Chess
  • Year Two 9/4/12
  • Guide
  • AQAF
  • RCM
  • Solutions
  • Lock-in 12/3/12
  • Rising Costs
  • Epstein
  • Two Coopers
  • Sit-in 5/8/13
  • Alumni Trustees
  • Alumni Giving
  • New Cooper
  • No Vision
  • Future
  • Real Narrative
  • The Deadline
  • Scenarios
  • Exit
  • - click on pic for second draft (2/21/12) of infographics by Matt Arnold AR '82 depicting Real Estate, Investments, Revenues, Annual Giving, Expenses, and Staff Changes

    10-19-2018 The Elephant in the Room - Transcriptions of 2018 commencement speeches
    03-06-2018 A Modest Proposal - Return Cooper to Free in Five Years
    12-11-2016 At Cooper Union 2016: CUAA Edition - The (Academic) Year in Review (9/2015-9/2016): Progress, but Slow or Delayed
    02-20-2016 Solutions (rev 1) - alternatives to tuition (with added Driscoll Plan)
    10-13-2015 Fact-Checking the Findings of Fact - Corrections to the Attorney General's Cross-Petition
    09-17-2015 Testing Out New Narratives - Interim President William Mea steps up to the plate
    06-20-2015 Counter Narratives to the Administration Narrative Part II (rev 1) - A guide for the media against all of the persistent and final lies spread at the end of the 4-year reign of terror
    03-21-2015 Good Faith Reliance - Blow-by-blow response to the President's "The State of Cooper Union"
    12-06-2014 "Ivory Tower" Errata - Minor corrections and clarifications to the Andrew Rossi CNN documentary
    11-22-2014 CUAA Secedes from Union (rev 1) - Council fed up with censorship


    01-12-2014 Exit Through the Gift Shop - Post-Mortem
    08-11-2013 The "Regular Contributor" and Other Myths - alumni giving, part two
    07-28-2013 And the No Confidence Vote Goes to... - the next Chairman of the Board of Trustees
    06-23-2013 The Real Narrative - the history of The Cooper Union up to June 2013
    06-23-2013 Ask Mr. Misinformation - answers to more false narratives from the administration
    06-01-2013 Coffee, Donut, and a Dorm - kicking the vision down the road
    05-31-2013 Drinking the Kool-Aid: The New Cooper Union - full-tuition programs
    05-26-2013 Michael Borkowsky and Alumni Giving (rev 1) - the 20% lie
    05-19-2013 Unasked Questions for the Alumni Trustees
    05-07-2013 Fee vs. Tuition (rev 4) - why words matter
    02-15-2013 A Tale of Two Coopers - Before the March 1, 2013 Face-Off
    12-31-2012 The Education of Mark Epstein - in his own words
    12-20-2012 The Cooper Institute - short version
    12-18-2012 Facebook Policy - plus some good ramblings
    12-16-2012 The Real Cooper (rev 1) - 1883 documents
    12-08-2012 Yes, Alexander, There Is A Santa Claus (rev 1) - on exponential costs
    12-05-2012 New York Magazine-style article - for non-Cooper folk
    12-02-2012 RCM@CU - Bringing Responsibility Centered Management to the Non-Academic Units
    09-08-2012 Actual Questions Asked Frequently - Latest response to "the new transparency"
    08-29-2012 Endow a President - Financing the other half of the budget
    05-06-2012 See the Whole Board (rev 2) - Bharucha's Pre-emptive Surrender
    04-08-2012 Envisioning Austerity - layoffs and program reductions
    02-04-2012 A Fiduciary Timeline (rev 2) - Cooper's march to bankruptcy
    01-31-2012 The Deadline (rev 1) - would a five-year plan be sufficient?
    01-28-2012 Counter-Narratives to the Administration Narrative (rev 5) - a baker's dozen
    01-28-2012 Scenarios for End Times (rev 4) - don't say you weren't warned
    01-27-2012 Hide the Salami (rev 1) - Board Statement and Summary
    01-23-2012 Don't Worry, Be HEPI - how to portray an increase as a reduction
    01-15-2012 Becoming the Story - administrators who draw attention to themselves
    01-15-2012 The New Colossus - on reinventing The Cooper Union
    01-12-2012 Further questions the Office of Public Relations refused to answer
    12-28-2011 Summary of the Summary - of the December 5 Summit
    12-10-2011 Urtak Poll - what you think
    12-10-2011 (spreadsheet)
    12-09-2011 My Fantasy Presidential Address - if it were only so
    12-09-2011 Selected Community Summit Slides - the short version
    12-07-2011 Great Hall Financial presentation (silent, PDF, video1,2,3) - socko multi-media show
    12-02-2011 Questions the Office of Public Relations refused to answer - past, present, and future
    11-28-2011 Cooper Voices - eloquence, passion, and moving anecdotes
    11-27-2011 The Real Bharucha - what you'd rather not know
    11-26-2011 Do You Want Deficit With That? (rev 2) - inside the financial statements
    11-26-2011 (spreadsheet)
    11-20-2011 The Halloween Massacre (rev 5) - the opening salvo
    11-19-2011 Cooper Payroll - The Monkey on Their Back (rev 2) - non-academic bloat
    11-19-2011 (spreadsheet)
    11-18-2011 Questions answered by Chair Epstein - all 6 AP questions asked and answered
    11-17-2011 Trustees Mainly Board Junkies - just another not-for-profit to them
    11-17-2011 (spreadsheet.)
    11-14-2011 Cooper's Strategy through 2007 - Alum Pres observes Board before the crash

    We make mistakes, and we're continuously trying to make this better. If you read or see something that you know is wrong or that you think could be better, don't write us off - write to the Publisher. See the revisions listed above? It happens.


    Everything started with The Halloween Massacre. Then came Counter-Narratives to the Administration Narrative, followed by Questions answered by Chair Epstein. By this time, The Alumni Pioneer was born.

    The first version of Scenarios for End Times followed next, then Fee vs. Tuition, along with Cooper's Strategy through 2007, written by Don Toman, former Alumni Association President. Finally, the first analyses, Cooper Payroll - The Monkey on Their Back (and its spreadsheet) and Trustees Mainly Board Junkies (and its spreadsheet), were published.

    The Thanksgiving break was a major time for The Alumni Pioneer, with the initial publication of Do You Want Deficit With That? (and its spreadsheet). At the end of the long weekend, The Real Bharucha was published. Within a week the two had garnered over 400 downloads each.

    On Monday we changed tack with the inspiring Cooper Voices and published questions the Office of Public Relations refused to answer when, given three days to respond, well, the Office of Public Relations refused to respond to our questions.

    We posted The Deadline on the morning of the Great Hall Financial presentation on December 5, 2011. (Silent and PDF versions were posted two days later, and Selected Community Summit Slides two days after that).

    Dr. Bharucha enjoyed reading our publisher's Fantasy Presidential Address, but laughed it off. We took a snapshot of the Urtak Poll. The Board stayed on schedule and published their December 16 report on the financial crisis. This led the Cooper Union Community to the 2006 cy pres petition to the NYS Supreme Court. The false optimism of the fantasy presidential address has been replaced with the stark realities of the administration's Fiduciary Timeline and an attempt to analyze the Board Statement and Summary while they continue to play Hide the Salami.

    Just before the holiday break, the Gang of Six posted their summary of the Community Summit and announced a second set of breakout sessions, so we published a Summary of the Summary for those with really short attention spans - although we certainly encourage our readers to read the original summary, read the full transcripts, and watch the videos, if you are so inclined. Over that break we didn't sit still: we created a a new set of questions that the Office of Public Relations also refused to answer, we wrote about administrators who, through their actions, end up Becoming the Story, and we created a song and slideshow based on Bharucha's "reinvention strategy" called The New Colossus.

    We explain the Higher Education Price Index in Don't Worry, Be HEPI, and created some fantastic infographics in time for the third Breakout Session. We've changed our masthead slogan twice: now it's "Fighting For a Fair Risk-Free Austerity Budget Since November 2011." Prior to publication of "The Way Forward," we called for layoffs and program reductions in Envisioning Austerity. We all know what happened on April 24, 2012 - the pre-emptive surrender called the "hybrid framework" is analyzed in See the Whole Board. And to wrap up the first academic year of the crisis, we offered Endow a President, our slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to how the New Philanthropy can actually benefit The Cooper Union.

    The second year of the crisis, TC Westcott responded to our Student's Guide to the Cooper Union Financial Crisis with her FAQ, so we created a list of Actual Questions Asked Frequently. We had just written a critique of Responsibility Centered Management when the first lock-in on December 3, 2012, made everything get very busy. For the general public, we published our New York Magazine-style article for non-Cooper folk. We responded to clueless engineering students with Yes, Alexander, There Is A Santa Claus and discovered historical documents that revealed some inconvenient truths about The Real Cooper. The clueless engineering students took offense on-line, so we set up a Facebook Policy that we occasionally ease up on when the offending parties take a break to attend to classes and exams. In response to the constant refrain to offer alternatives to tuition, we posted a summary of Solutions from The Alumni Pioneer and Friends of Cooper Union.

    Over winter break, we decided to go musical again with The Education of Mark Epstein (also available as a PDF). Prior to a March 1, 2013, stand-off, The Alumni Pioneer offered A Tale of Two Coopers.

    We thought it would be over, but then came the tuition announcement and the May 8, 2013 sit-in. Mike Bokowsky kicked off that March 1 event, and was the first trustee to visit the sit-in, so we looked in our archives and published "the Borkowsky letter" and a critique of the 20% alumni giving lie in Michael Borkowsky and Alumni Giving. This has been followed by a more in-depth statistical analysis based on the FY 2009 Donor Report, The "Regular Contributor" and Other Myths. The tuition announcement, horrible as it is, is a distraction from the total abandonment of the merit scholarships, as described in Drinking the Kool-Aid and Coffee, Donut, and a Dorm.

    In response to more false narratives posted on the Cooper Union website, The Alumni Pioneer has created two YouTube videos, Ask Mr. Misinformation and The Politics of Distraction, as well as The Real Narrative. Also, selection of a new Chairman of the Board of Trustees was scheduled for September 2013.

    Our Publisher was elected to serve on the Working Group and signed a Confidentiality Agreement that shut him up for a few months (except for monthly reports to the Cooper Union Community published on the CU Alumni website). After the trustees voted to reject the Working Group Plan, our publisher wrote this port-mortem, Exit Through the Gift Shop.


    After the fight for a fair, risk-free austerity budget ended in January 2014, another fight began: the Committee to Save Cooper Union filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court. The administration launched a war against the Cooper Union Alumni Association, covered in CUAA Secedes from Union. The Cooper Union, and the president in particular, suffered a public relations fiasco with the release of the CNN Documentary, "Ivory Tower" (some errata published here). As an Attorney General investigation flared in the background, the president tried to line up a new job with a nonsensical document called, "The State of Cooper Union." The Alumni Pioneer came up with a third YouTube video, Good Faith Reliance, which it also released in PowerPoint format; much of the information was used by the Committee to Save Cooper Union in their own responsa, "The Real State of The Cooper Union." Finally, The Alumni Pioneer came back to where it started with Counter-Narratives to the Administration Narrative Part II as a media guide against all of the persistent and final lies spread by the five trustees, president, and dean who resigned in June 2015.

    The Attorney General, with a Cross-Petition that includes a cy pres petition and a Consent Decree, ended the toxic environment on campus on September 14, 2015, but the Chair won't be forced to resign until December 2016 and an interim president has attempted his first sales pitch. It is analyzed in Testing Out New Narratives. As to the Attorney General, his Findings of Fact in the Cross-Petition are fact-checked. A year later, progress, slow or delayed, was summarized in this CUAA edition of At Cooper Union. Two years later, after the FEC and Financial Monitor reports were released, based on community feedback and prior to the Board of Trustee vote, this modest proposal to return Cooper to free in five years was posted. After the first "paying" class graduated in 2018, this transcription of commencement speeches facing the "elephant in the room" was posted.

    If this is too much, check out the lighter fare on Page 2 and a serial webcomic, Peter Cooper & The Demons of Debt. We've even added a couple of interactive games to amuse you.


    Cooper Pioneer

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    Ten One Action Item for the Cooper Union Community:
    Remove Jamshed Bharucha
    The June 2012 Deadline Has Passed: Watch Out! Here It Comes!

    June 2015 Update: Action Item Achieved, Jamshed Bharucha Has Been Removed!!

    We are forced to conclude that the administrative action items demanded below will never be realized while Jamshed Bharucha is in office - that the "new transparency" is a sham. The demands are:

  • President lift all gag orders on administration staff, elected Alumni Trustees, and Alumni Association representatives
  • President endorse the Community Summit process involving all stakeholders, not just those "invited" by the administration
  • President state publicly and unequivocally that The Cooper Union will remain completely tuition free
  • Finance Office release the student 10.31.2011 presentation PowerPoint
  • Finance Office release FY 2011 unconsolidated financial information
  • Office of Public Relations answer 11-28-2011 and 01-09-2012 Alumni Pioneer questions
  • More criticism of Bharucha from Casey Gollan A'13 of the Cooper 11.

    Other Resources and Links

  • 2006 New York Supreme Court petition for cy pres relief
  • Audited consolidated financial statements, FY 2000 to 2010
  • FY 2010 Form 990 and spreadsheet of expenses from FY 2009 and 2010
  • Guidestar website Form 990s - full FY 2009, 2008, 2007, more available for subscription, more complete than ERI
  • Economic Research Institute website Form 990s
  • Complete transcript of first half of Open Forum with Mark Epstein
  • Youtube videos of both halves - click on Uploads to view in reverse chronological order
  • Historian Buckley Clarifies the Legend of Free Education

    Since site statistics indicate that readers are wandering all over the Not Nice Music website trying to figure out who the hell Barry Drogin is, here's a Cooper-focused page about the Publisher of The Alumni Pioneer.



  • "It's one thing to be stuck at the helm as the ship hits an iceberg,
    it's another to say it deserved to hit the iceberg because buoyancy is unsustainable."
    - Sean Cusack, 5/30/13


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