Cooper President Engages Critics in Impromptu Exchange
Jamshed Bharucha speaks with students in his office for the first time since last week’s…
“Until recently [my parents] had supported the administration. This is no longer the case. I have their permission to share this, and cannot thank them enough for their love and support. I would not be at Cooper, nor here in this moment without them. I know that their message resonates with Cooper students, alumni, faculty, and staff everywhere. Mark Epstein and Jamshed Bharucha cannot continue to ignore these countless voices that oppose their decisions and authority at the Cooper Union.”
— Joe Riley, one of the Cooper Union students who has occupied the President’s Office since Wednesday. For the record, I don’t demand what they are demanding, and I’ve worked a bit to help the Emergency Management Team to understand the situation. I also spent a bit of time with the students up there when I was in NYC.
The letter below is from Joe’s parents to the head of the Board of Trustees Mark Epstein. It speaks with a very different type of voice than we’ve heard up till now, and is worth paying attention to.
Sent: May 13, 2013 11:51 AM
Subject: RE: Voice Your Support: Petition Enclosed
We recently received an email from you with a “petition” attached, which you asked us to sign. Given recent events at the Cooper Union and what we have learned from reviewing information that has come to our attention, we feel compelled to respond as follows:
President Jamshed Bharucha’s administration has completely mishandled the current situation with the students from the beginning. President Bharucha should not have threatened to dismiss these students or withhold their diplomas, but should have been offering to hire them instead. I have observed many hours of the live stream video from the President’s office where anywhere from 30 to 100+ students are furiously typing on laptops, texting or talking on phones, communicating with the larger community and generating plans, websites, ideas and even artwork to move forward on the issues.
Why has Bharucha turned a blind eye to their dedication, their talent, their effectiveness and indeed their fundraising potential? Why has he not instead taken advantage of this tremendously powerful human resource to work toward truly effective alternative financial solutions? His plan to charge tuition, arrived at in closed-door meetings in sometimes undisclosed locations (which plan, clearly, does no more than put a band-aid on a deep gash) is akin to cutting off his nose despite his face. His total failure to acknowledge alternatives that students are willing to offer is foolhardy at best, and at worst, may ultimately lead to the downfall of the school from both a financial and public relations standpoint. In fact, given the energy, work ethic and passion of the students, had Bharucha worked with them instead of against them from the beginning, the school’s financial woes could have been well on their way toward a sustainable solution by now. But instead of taking the role as a community builder, President Bharucha’s conduct has been divisive at the very least.
If I were in Bharucha’s shoes, the first thing I would do is walk into my office and listen to what this amazingly effective group of young people has to say. I would not go into hiding, refusing to leave my home and refusing to communicate with the main constituents on this issue - the students. I would put them to work for me to help raise significant funds, realizing that they have the interests of the school at heart and tremendous fundraising potential. President Bharucha should be true to his purported “open door” policy, and have the courage to walk through his own door. There are no more dedicated, passionate, smart and willing students on the planet than those who are currently waiting to see him in his own office. What is he so afraid of? As a leader of the Cooper community, Bharucha has behaved in a secretive, passive aggressive, and frankly cowardly, manner, and as such no longer has our support.
As for the Board of Trustees, you should be ashamed of themselves. We have carefully digested all the information that has been brought to light about the truth of the financial disaster which, granted, began years ago. Yet the current board has done nothing to stem the tide of fiscal irresponsibility; indeed you are complicit in it. You approved the decision to borrow many millions of dollars to build the new building with no idea how to pay for it, knowing already that the endowment was in serious trouble. Moreover, you have squandered millions of dollars in fees to hedge fund managers. At the same time, the very clear public relations message you disseminated was that the Cooper Union was in good financial health.
When our son Joe first started at Cooper Union we were sold a bill of goods – repeatedly we were told at orientation meetings that Cooper’s endowment was in excellent shape, and that they were so successful in managing their funds that they could afford to build a new fabulous building when most other schools around the country were struggling just to survive. There were even articles in the news media to that effect when construction was completed. But board members knew full well what the truth was. Nevertheless, you sent out the message to parents and the community at large that all was well. That is more than gross mismanagement. It is in fact misrepresentation, misuse of funds, and a failure of fiduciary duty. In light of all that, the “petition” we received from you, Mr. Epstein, and your request that we sign it, is appalling. So no, we will not sign it. Our support is with the students and faculty who have had the courage to stand up and challenge the assumptions, representations and conclusions of the board and this administration. These constituents are a force to be reckoned with, and they must have a voice on this issue.
We are not a wealthy family, and so we harbor no illusions that our views carry weight with you. Initially, much to our son Joe’s chagrin, both the Board and President Bharucha had our support. But now we count ourselves among the thousands who have asked all of you to listen, and to change course. It is clear you are unwilling to do so. In our opinion therefore, you should all be summarily dismissed.
Annetta and Bill Riley, parents of Joe Riley
knuck if ya buck
REBLOG FOR SAFETY CAT
whoa where can I get this it’s amazing
Student Bodies, Playboy Magazine, 1972
Jenny Eagleton found in cave trapped inside Terracotta Nolan neck-amphora for all eternity. Obverse, youth with spears pursuing woman Reverse, woman Compared with the Achilles Painter whose student he was, the Phiale Painter shows a greater predilection for mythological scenes and active figures. The subject depicted here cannot be certainly identified. It may represent the hero Theseus, who engaged in various amorous pursuits as he made his way from Troizen, where he was born, to Athens.
239 art students left.
Best class ever.
Sure Chris has the cutest sweater ever, and Jenny is rocking a jean jacket, but we’re so much more than just sweet outerwear. Let us show you.
Today Cooper’s Board of Trustees and President made a huge blunder, announcing — weeks after acceptance letters were ready to go out — that the Board has decided to retract all early admission for the School of Art in response to a letter issued by School of Art Faculty opposing tuition-based programs:
The Faculty of the School of Art, while endorsing the excellence of the programs they developed over the Fall semester and presented orally to the Board on December 5 (these include pre-college, summer, certificate and master’s programs), has reversed its course and on January 25th issued a statement to me and Dean Bos, and later to the Board of Trustees, stating that they “can neither propose nor vote on a motion that moves these proposals forward,” stating that “any solution to The Cooper Union’s current financial crisis that depends, even in part on tuition compromises and irreversibly damages the ideals of art, education, freedom, and citizenship”. Pending the Board’s decisions in March about the future of the institution, and in the absence of a sustainable model for the School of Art, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees has directed the administration to notify students seeking early admission to the School of Art that their applications will be considered as part of the art school’s general application pool. We apologize to our early admission applicants to the School of Art for the delay in the decision process.
This produced many confused and disappointed applicants, who were either rejected or deferred. My little sister, an applicant, reminded me that you can only apply early to one school, and Cooper’s administration has essentially thrown out the chances of a whole bunch of smart, hard-working kids.
That’s why I was proud, yesterday, to confront the President, Chairman of the Board, and other administrators with our demands as Students for a Free Cooper Union, and sing, “Happy Resignation Dear Jamshed” in hopes that he’ll TAKE THE HINT. (He walked out of the room.) And that was a full day before they made this ridiculous announcement. Check out the video above and re-read our demands below:
- 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.
CONTACT US WITH ANY Qs AT Deferredcooperunion@gmail.com
and go here: https://www.facebook.com/EarlyDecisionNYCApplicant
By “Us” I mean current students who want you to get in and who want Cooper to keep being a school and keep awarding a full-tuition scholarship to all admitted students.
Yes, all applicants have either been denied or deferred. Those of you who were deferred, don’t lose hope, seriously! you will find out in late march if you were accepted (you have a good chance If you were deferred!)
Check out Facebook group called “save cooper union” for latest updates and if you have strong feelings and are as confused as we are, also send an email to Lawrence Cacciatore Cacciatl@cooper.edu , Jamshed Bharucha President@cooper.edu and Mark Epstein (chairman of the board of trustees) firstname.lastname@example.org (but don’t forget to cc email@example.com so we can read your cool emails at a press conference/ speak out next week), who are all members of cooper union’s administration. Don’t email Saskia Bos or Mitchell Lipton. They didn’t make this decision.
February 13, 2013
Dear members of the Cooper Union Community
With the spring semester well underway, I want to take this opportunity to provide an update on our academic and financial planning, and to invite you to a Community Forum with Trustees on March 1st.
Following the Board of Trustees meeting in December, the Chairman appointed a Reinvention Review Committee of the Board to review all proposals to address Cooper Union’s financial condition, including the reports that were developed by the faculty. This committee will make recommendations to the full Board. Last semester I indicated that the Board would make important decisions about the future of the Cooper Union sometime in late January. That timeframe has been adjusted to late March, to allow for a thorough review of options and a careful analysis of risks and opportunities. The guiding principles in this process match the principles I laid out to the academic deans and faculty in August - our plans must be financially sustainable while also building a future characterized by academic excellence and a distinctive vision. Since at least the late 1960s (as evidenced by a report by President White and dramatically curtailed real growth in Chrysler revenues in the 1990s), Cooper’s principal funding source (revenue from the Chrysler building) has not kept up with inflation. This shrinking funding source triggering a series of steps to downsize, including parting with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Green Camp, physics degree programs and a variety of assets. We now must make the tough decisions necessary to build a sustainable future without kicking the can further down the road.
As you may recall from my memo in December, the Faculties of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering and the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture have forwarded their reports to me, and I have forwarded them to the Board for study and analysis. The Faculty of the School of Art, while endorsing the excellence of the programs they developed over the Fall semester and presented orally to the Board on December 5 (these include pre-college, summer, certificate and master’s programs), has reversed its course and on January 25th issued a statement to me and Dean Bos, and later to the Board of Trustees, stating that they “can neither propose nor vote on a motion that moves these proposals forward,” stating that “any solution to The Cooper Union’s current financial crisis that depends, even in part on tuition compromises and irreversibly damages the ideals of art, education, freedom, and citizenship”. Pending the Board’s decisions in March about the future of the institution, and in the absence of a sustainable model for the School of Art, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees has directed the administration to notify students seeking early admission to the School of Art that their applications will be considered as part of the art school’s general application pool. We apologize to our early admission applicants to the School of Art for the delay in the decision process.
The Board of Trustees Community Forum on March 1st will convene at 6:00 PM in The Great Hall. The Forum will be a structured opportunity for students, faculty, staff and alumni to ask questions of trustees before decisions are made. Dean Stephen Baker, Cooper Union’s newest honorary alumnus, will convene and introduce the event. I encourage you to attend.
I want to thank everyone in our community who has contributed ideas to the reinvention process. With challenge comes the opportunity. We will get through this and come out poised for a vibrant future.
Josephine Halvorson “Drops”,Drops.” Oil on linen, 20 x 15 inches / 50.8 x 38.1 cm, 2012.
Always reblog for JoHa
Satyr and maenad, ancient Roman fresco from Pompeii
From the Casa di Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii (V, 1, 26)
Museo Archeologico (Naples)
Allison Katz, “Topkapi” 2011
Epstein: The alumni give-back rate at Cooper is very low: 20%. I spoke with one student who said, “If I give back it wasn’t a scholarship, it’s a student loan”. That’s a quote from a student.
For those who are following the disintegration of Cooper Union, these notes from the Faculty-Trustee meeting are a good read.
In this particular passage, Mark Epstein — chairman of the Board of Trustees — is misquoting me. The actual quote, which you can hear in the video, is:
“Let me be clear. I am not trying to pay back the education I got. That’s called a student loan.
No, when I give, I am funding the education of the future. That’s not repaying something. That’s investing in something.
So as an investor, I challenge you, President Bharucha, the Board, I challenge you to find the real and sustainable resources — transparency, communication, trust, and integrity — resources that can be renewed endlessly. I’ll break my back to build on those and I know that’s true of everyone here.
Do not allow our investment to fail.”
At the time, I was holding a check for $10,000, which I offered — and still offer — to the school if it will take tuition off the table.
I hope I can give it.