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Fighting For a Fair Risk-Free Austerity Budget Since November 2011December 2, 2012, 5pm
Dishonorable Defeat by Forfeiture
Monday, December 3, 2012
3rd Community Summit
6pm - 9pm
Click on poster for full-size image.
On November 8, Alumni Pioneer publisher Barry Drogin challenged current Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha to a Frost/Nixon-style non-moderated duel in the Great Hall. On November 14, the current president declined. To decline is considered a dishonorable defeat by forfeiture.|
This matches the current president's decline in popularity, as well as the defeat of all four elements of his November 1, 2011 "reinvention strategy" by the Revenue Task Force. The RTF embraced the full-tuition scholarship policy for the college, refusing to replace it with a policy of "access" for lower-income families. The RTF Report included a consultant report that even a temporary reduction in the scholarship past 25% would lead to the college's ruination. The RTF also rejected the current president's suggestion that entrepeneurial activity leading to profits from patents was unfeasable. The second rejection was relegated to an appendix. Instead of public service, the RTF recommended charging for pre-college programs, such as the Saturday Program. And there was no mention of the current president's globalization proposal, but instead a recommendation for new inter-disciplinary for-pay graduate programs.
The RTF also rejected the current president's characterization of "decades of deficit spending" by referring to the "current crisis." And in a rejection of the current president's recent characterization of the Deed of Trust as the mission statement of the college, the RTF published the mission statement, although it characterized it as the "current mission statement," and repeated the false narrative that the "free college" history dated to only 1902 instead of 1859 (see story below).
The RTF Report contains some disturbing recommendations, including reducing the size of the undergraduate programs from 1000 students to 700 students, destroying the five-year integrated engineering masters program by charging full-tuition to up to 350 graduate students, establishing new for-pay off-site programs for 200 graduate students, and possibly reducing the full-tuition scholarship by a percentage that could cost each undergraduate student over $9,500 per year in addition to the $1,500 per year student fee.
The document, released to the Cooper Union Community on November 14, 2012, is curiously dated October 12, 2012. Friends of Cooper Union has rejected the document, accurately stating on their website that the RTF acceptance of only $4M in annual budget cuts, and the emphasis on revenue generation, isn't the only way out of the fiscal crisis. FOCU proposes a 10-point plan, starting with 4 austerity measures: immediate cuts, long-range cuts, termination of all consultants who are not cash-positive, and a true hiring freeze. The 5th point is to use the 4 austerity measures to recalculate the needed revenue generation needed. Points 6 and 7 involve short-range and long-range planning, points 8 and 10 are for a bridge capital campaign and a new long-range capital campaign, and point 9 is to strengthen the role of the alumni with FOCU's help. FOCU rejects the "hybrid" framework, standing against graduate tuition and against even a partial reduction in the full-tuition scholarship for undergraduate students. Over 3,000 people signed FOCU's on-line no-tuition petition, and nearly a 1,000 people have endorsed "The Way Forward," the FOCU consensus document.
Faculty committee recommendations are expected by November 27, 2012 (a deadline extended from November 15, 2012, due to Post-Tropical Storm Sandy). Bharucha's plans are for the faculty and deans to present their recommendations to the Board of Trustees on December 5, 2012, and for an additional Board of Trustee meeting to be held in January 2013 to debate and approve a final response to the financial crisis.
The Lost Decade
New York Times/Chronicle of Higher Education
HEPI, HECA, and CPI
Center for College Affordability and Productivity
Responsibility Centered Management
NEA Higher Education Journal
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.
Cooper Considers Sale of Residence HallIn agreement with an emphasis in The Way Forward to concentrate on short term strategies to get Cooper to 2018 when a dramatic bump-up in Chrysler Building rent will be realized, VP of Finance TC Westcott informed the Cooper Union Community on October 11, 2012, that the college is considering selling its Residence Hall in order to realize an immediate short-term gain that will help "bridge" the college's finances until then. The new "bridge" rhetoric, used also by VP of Development Derek Wittner in a speech to the Alumni Council in September, is a welcome, if temporary, pause in the "structural deficit" rhetoric that has dominated Cooper communications since October 31, 2011.
Although the sale of the Residence Hall would also eliminate two revenue streams for Cooper, the college may actually be losing money each year on the Residence, given operating costs, staffing, and rental payments to Kamenstein Realty. Some critics of the announcement fear that the loss of the Residence Hall may result in Cooper returning to a "commuter school," as New York residents are forced to stay with parents and non-New York residents are forced to settle in outer borough apartments affordable to students, now that the East Village has gentrified and Manhattan real estate has become less affordable.
Ironically, the potential sale of the Residence Hall is similar to a fake story in April 2012 when the Gothamist blog was "punked" by a student's website claiming to announce a presidential sale of the New Academic Building to NYU.
It is unknown whether the announcement will reduce or eliminate "revenue generation" pressures on the three schools announced by current President Bharucha in August 2012. In a Bylaw change, the chair of the Board of Trustees investment committee recently gained oversight on union negotiations. John Michaelson, a non-alumni trustee previously in charge of the investment committee who has been widely criticized for his press announcements during what has been revealed as a time of great financial stress for the college, has been replaced by an alumni trustee, Thomas Driscoll ME'77. For the first time in its history, Cooper has a chairman, vice chairman, and investment committee chair who are all alumni, and, according to students who attended, an October 2012 trustee meeting was dominated by alumni trustees. At that same meeting, current President Bharucha made the unfortunate claim that the Charter and Deed of Trust were the college's "mission statement," and that the mission statement adopted in 2000 was intended to only be for a decade. At that same meeting, current CUAA President Peter Cafiero made a personal statement that the education "equal to the best" was more important than the full tuition scholarship policy when he applied.
Cooper Historians Find Peter Cooper Devotion to Free EducationIn an 1864 address to the first graduating class at Cooper, almost forty years before Abram Hewitt historically provided the "free as air and water" quote, Cooper historians have found further proof of Peter Cooper's intention that The Cooper Union be "open and free to all who felt a want of scientific knowledge, as applicable to any of the useful purposes of life."
Official Cooper Historian Peter Buckley had searched for the "free as air and water" quote in Peter Cooper's writings, and, in a scholarly article and presentation to an audience that included the Board of Trustees, had cast doubt on the historical accuracy of the quote. This research was then misused by Cooper trustees to justify a plan to re-write history, claiming that The Cooper Union wasn't free until 1902. The 1864 speech is quoted in other publications that pre-date the 1902 Hewitt address.
Students looking in to the Landmarks Preservation Commission plaque on the Foundation Building, declaring that the institution offers "free education to all," unearthed the LPC's 1966 grant of landmark status, which explicitly cited the college's historical significance as "one of New York's first free institutions." The LPC analysis cites "that innovations were made both in the physical structure and in the use for which it was designed" (emphasis added).
Pearson Molds Propaganda Campaign
1. reinvention: build graduate program, sabotage undergraduate program
Although Ms. Pearson's on-line profile lives on at Dartmouth and its blogs, her career since coming to New York City first in August 2010 is a mystery. Pearson Strategies (not to be confused with Pearson Education) has no website, and her only official link to Cooper is through her listing as "staff" at every Expense Reduction Task Force meeting. The Cooper Union confirmed that Ms. Pearson has been paid directly by the college as a consultant, simultaneous to the hiring freeze announcement. Ms. Pearson refused to comment for this article.
Referred to by one source as "the Karl Rove of the Bharucha administration," what is clear is that psychologist Bharucha has been using Ms. Pearson's advice in the media campaign that started with the Halloween Massacre and the announcement of the "reinvention strategy," led to a media blackout, the suppression of information about the Community Summit and other Friends of Cooper Union events, changes in the history section of the Cooper website (which no longer mentions Peter Cooper's oft-quoted "free as air and water" phrase, but instead now states, "He made his school free for the working classes"), the insistent use of "access" in all Cooper Union communications, and, eventually, the announcement of the "hybrid framework." Although ostensibly attributed to Lawrence Cacciatore, Secretary to the Board of Trustees, Pearson's hand can be detected in the pre-emptive "Board Report" released on September 20.
Pearson was at Dartmouth when its Board of Trustees attempted to dilute the influence of its alumni, resulting in a lawsuit. Coverage of the governance crisis dominated the Dartmouth website to such an extent that the Board of Trustees created a new website to bury the story. Bharucha left Dartmouth in 2002 for Tufts, prior to the Ivy League fiasco, although a key theme was an attempt to transition Dartmouth from an undergraduate institution to a graduate research institution, similar to Bharucha's unpopular "Reinvention Strategy" for Cooper and a similar money-generating goal at Tufts.
LinkedIn links may only be visible to readers with LinkedIn connections to The Cooper Union.
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.
Bharucha Threatens Deadline$12M in "revenue generation" by 2023 - or else what?
Instead of increasing the $4 million in budget cuts, the President announced to the faculty that $12 million in "revenue generation" must be proposed and agreed to by November 15 to present to a board meeting on December 5. The "revenue generation" language is a variant of the "inventive and entrepreneurial activity" that has been an essential part of Bharucha's "Reinvention Strategy" announced on November 1, 2011, explicitly referenced by Bharucha as a Tufts accomplishment in this YouTube video.
(A senior's "translation" of the full text of the current president's announcement can be found here.)
In a letter to the academic deans that The Alumni Pioneer has gotten access to, the $12 million is broken in to three "revenue targets": $6 million from engineering, $3.6 million from art and $2.4 million from architecture - to be attained in five to eight years, with half of each target achieved in 5 years. In a curious turn of phrase, the president writes that if each school is not "self-sustaining," then the Board will decide "whether or not each school can be sustained." This has been taken by the Cooper Union Community as a threat to close the schools if the faculty do not cooperate.
The announcement comes a year after negotiations on renewal of the teacher's union contract stalled, and in the midst of numerous faculty and administration desertions over the summer. In an unexpected public salvo on the union issue, an FAQ attributed to TC Westcott claims that employee contributions to their benefits are only 6% at Cooper, compared to 25 to 35% "at most non-profit educational institutions." Faculty union sources confirmed that the administration refused to make any verbal or written specific proposals to the union prior to their contract expiring last year, instead agreeing to merely continue the contract as is for another year. This has happened again this year. The CUFCT President recently characterized the Cooper legal position as reluctance due to "uncertainty about the future structure of the institution." (stress added)
The same FAQ drops the "last resort" rhetoric used in November 2011 in reference to student tuition - introducing a new characterization of the full-tuition scholarship as "merit aid." On September 8, The Alumni Pioneer compiled its own Actual Questions Asked Frequently, and Friends of Cooper Union compiled a set of Frequently Unanswered Questions, or FUQ. FOCU was recently rebuffed in an attempt to address the September 19 BOT meeting, although a student protest did gain access. FOCU was invited to an October 5 meeting with the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and new investment committee chairman (replacing John Michaelson) instead.
Tell the Trustees what you think!
CUAA President Peter Cafiero, 2 Broadway, Room A17.55, NYC, 646-252-5510, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Open Forum 11/8
Summit II 4/26
- 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
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
12-09-2011 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 Do You Want Deficit With That? (rev 2) - inside the financial statements
11-27-2011 The Real Bharucha - what you'd rather not know
11-24-2011 Fee vs. Tuition (rev 3) - why words matter
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
11-18-2011 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
11-14-2011 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.
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 offer Endow a President and RCM@CU, our slightly tongue-in-cheek guides to how the New Philanthropy and Responsibility Centered Management can actually benefit The Cooper Union.
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:
More criticism of Bharucha from a Cooper student.
Other Resources and Links
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.
All content posted in Cassandra's Curse, including this page, are copyrighted, but there are links to non-copyrighted files under the Original Analyses, Research, and Reporting section. If you are new to the site, all attempts are being made to make the presentation of material as efficient as possible. If you have already visited the site, you should check back periodically (pun intended) as content is updated (sometimes twice daily) and the website is improved on a regular basis. Remember to hit REFRESH on your browser!
Cassandra's Curse Copyright © 1993, 1996, 2007, 2011, 2012 by Barry Drogin - All rights reserved