Election postings on social media

CUAA Election Data 3.13.15

Kevin Slavin A’95 – April 1, 2015


This is personal, on behalf of no one but myself. On the upcoming elections, I have struggled to follow the back-and-forth and up-and-down, and can’t/don’t endorse anyone specifically. But let me address a few things I can see from where I stand.

Most everyone involved – no matter how noble or banal their intentions — is working with poor information. This includes me. I think the trustees have a hard time getting good information about the day-to-day of the institution, I think alumni have a hard time getting information about the work of the trustees, the administration and perhaps — most importantly here — the work by one another.

I have *some* insight into the intentions and effort on the part of everyone from the trustees to FCU to the CUAA. I don’t know everything, but I do know that no constituency is well aware of what the other does, day-to-day. And I can say that all of them work very hard for their respective understanding of the institution. Much harder than you imagine.

So: in choosing who will represent the CUAA to the Board — and this is *a very important position* because this is one of very few voices on the board that can be said to represent the broad interests of the alumni — I endorse no one and nothing but the following principles:

— If someone is running for this position, they have already worked very very hard with either a lack of gratitude, or worse. Take that as a priori. If you don’t know what they’ve done: find out.

— They don’t know what they are in for. No one does. Had I known what was actually involved in the position of Alumni Trustee, I would never have agreed to do it. From a time perspective, as well as the general toll it takes, it tests the ability to balance everything else in life.

— The introduction of tuition is considered resolved by the trustees and has not been a topic of debate or discussion since the vote. There is no candidate, and there is nothing a candidate can do, to restore tuition-free Cooper. If Cooper returns to free, it will be because of exogenous forces (whether law or funding or I don’t know what), rather than the CUAA’s representation to the board. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but it’s a true thing. You can disagree with me on this, but that is how I see it from sitting with the Board. If I thought there was something an Alumni Trustee could do, I would do it. I tried, and I would try again if something changes. I believe in the principle, but I know that since the vote, there is no practice to apply it to in the current system.

Everyone should vote as they see fit. I vote based on this single criterion: assuming the board and the administration make the decisions, will that person be effective in working with the Board?

I don’t mean that they must be complacent — just the opposite — but whether they agree or disagree with what’s going on, will their opinion have weight? A vote is only one among many; the heart of the role is being able to represent facts, ideas, and the alumni as a whole, effectively and persuasively. Someone who does that well can make the role incredibly powerful. Someone who cannot do that well is simply casting one of a few dozen votes.

So, overall, I am not voting based on the stated positions about tuition or not. I trust that any alum knows what time it is in that regard, and would make Cooper free if they can. But they will not have greater power to do that simply by having a vote or being in the room.

They will have the very real power to affect a million large and small decisions that Cooper needs to make, and they will need to have time, knowledge, courage, integrity, a thick skin, and perhaps most importantly, the capability for many forms of diplomacy. I urge everyone to vote, and to vote with those criteria in mind.

The conversation can be followed here.


John Leeper AR’85 – April 1, 2015


I think that alumni & CUAA are in a much better place now than we were two years ago. I say that based on all the persistent work by all parts of the Cooper community of which I have been a small part.

We have voices on the BoT in and out of official CUAA positions that are heard. I’m more hopeful about Cooper’s future than I have been in years. I remember sitting in Barry’s apartment and going through the numbers with him and saying “We are so fucked!” In my first BoT meeting, I saw basically the same numbers. I have been afraid that Cooper would go the way of the dodo. I don’t see that now. We have a long way to go to get ourselves out of this hole that started with the sale of Green Camp. I am very encouraged by all the intense, intelligent interest and action that all parts of the community are manifesting. I look forward to us all finding ways to mutually agree on Cooper’s short term, medium term and long term future. When we do that, we can all put our oars together and pull Cooper out of the foundering shoals we are in. I’m not by nature, an optimist. I have spent my career figuring out how to get very tough projects done, some in rather extreme circumstances. In all cases, intelligent, reasonable conversation by responsible parties operating out of integrity in front of facts was the key. I see that occurring more and more often here.

The conversation can be followed here.


Brian Rose A’79 – April 13, 2015


An Election Appeal

In normal times, alumni associations are about service to alumni and school. In these extraordinary times, the CUAA must be, first and foremost, about saving Cooper Union. We are in an existential crisis – Peter Cooper’s mission has been tossed aside – and the school now operating in Cooper’s name, is drifting into oblivion.

A significant number of the Cooper community feel that the alumni council has been weak in its response to the administration and the Board of Trustees. There has been an inordinate amount of discussion about keeping a place at the table, about not antagonizing the administration, about maintaining our right to meet on campus, about keeping our distance from the CSCU, about being the only adults in the room.

At one point some months ago I spoke with a Times reporter about how the alumni association had been essentially marginalized and kicked off the campus by the Bharucha administration. He said there was definitely a story there, but after several weeks of nothing from the Times, I asked the reporter what it would take to get something written. He said, basically, if you guys would actually do something.

Now, of course, there have been lots of stories written ‘ largely because the Attorney General’s office has responded to the CSCU’s lawsuit and other individual appeals for intervention. We’re getting all kinds of leaked information and misinformation about what has been going on behind the scenes. The decision not to renew Bharucha’s contract may or may not be an attempt to manipulate the AG’s investigation by offering him as a sacrificial lamb. We don’t know. We read Kevin Slavin’s anguished, cryptic, reports from the belly of the beast.

At this juncture, with the CUAA elections upon us, we need a council that will step up and lead. We need a council that will call upon the Attorney General to clean house, replace the Board of Trustees, and do whatever is necessary to return us to free tuition. We need to make it clear that anything less is unacceptable to us. And we need a new university president, one with substantial stature and experience, willing to take up the reins as a gesture of civic responsibility – of giving back – like Peter Cooper, Andrew Carnegie, and Abram Hewitt did more than a century ago. We need to call for the appointment of such a person.

We are all alumni of this great institution, and I have profound respect for my colleagues on the council. But I will vote for those candidates who are willing to take a more activist stand, who are less worried about our place at the table, and more about replacing the table all together. Save Cooper Union.

The conversation can be followed here.


Sean Cusack BSE’98 – April 14, 2015


Vote Anderson-Cusack-Smolar for CUAA!

Anderson-Cusack-Smolar for CUAA 2015

Back to FREE:

1. Nils Folke Anderson will be a principled and effective member on the Board, advocating for why FREE is necessary and why the Alumni are part of that
2. Nils Folke Anderson will vote on the Board for a new President that believes in a FREE Cooper Union
3. Fundraise to support the REAL Mission of The Cooper Union
4. Reconstitute and sustain an ONGOING Working Group to propose and analyze solutions, all groups invited
5. Publicize clearly what the school IS and is NOT doing to move towards free, to all alumni


1. Mentoring, networking, and career advice for students & young alumni for ALL THREE schools
2. More prominent advertisement of alumni openings, events, & crowdfunds to support YOUR individual endeavors
3. Better opportunities, volunteering & community relationship-building in NYC

Back to BASICS:

1. A welcoming & open gender-friendly environment for ALL volunteers
2. A DEFEDERALIZED Council with much better delegation & involvement for all
3. Sean Cusack will report on Council and Committee meetings in a TIMELY and transparent manner
4. Kelly Smolar will ensure that future nominations are representative of the FULL Cooper community

The conversation can be followed here.


Peter Katz A’76 – April 16, 2015


What’s Next for Cooper?

It’s clear that the administration is now wounded, the board of trustees is in disarray and true regime change is imminent. With the Attorney General and/or other regulating bodies potentially calling the shots, change at Cooper is likely to be revolutionary and fast moving. So we need to prepare for real change. In such a scenario, your next Alumni Trustee is better off having fewer ties to a regime that’s now been discredited and is in retreat.

I’m not suggesting here that we in the Cooper community should become anarchists or be disrespectful in any way. During this critical time we need to work productively with all parties. But, in doing so we need to draw a clear line between what is negotiable and what is not, we must discard the strategies of a failed administration and a we must forge a bold new (tuition-free) plan. In the process, we have to rebuild trust and get the whole community, including the administration and trustees, working collaboratively.

A healthy deconstruction is taking place now; It’s a dangerous and scary time for the school, but it’s also a necessary first step to getting Peter Cooper’s house in order. Within the process it’s important to hold a mirror up to certain individuals in leadership roles to fully understand the impact of the decisions they’ve made, and insist that they take responsibility for what’s been lost at Cooper.

We should also be looking at implementing the governance structures needed to achieve the checks and balances that Peter Cooper once envisioned (for example, the Associates, described in detail in Cooper’s governing documents, is a component that never was implemented). These are the components that we should be discussing right now instead of kowtowing to a President and members of the board of trustees that are on their way out the door.

By being clear about what is essential, we can get back to the ideal that Peter Cooper intended – back to the cherished institution that built its unique reputation over the past 156 years. I’m not suggesting that we freeze the institution in time or look solely to the past, but rather that we respect the vision of its Founder as we remake Cooper Union for the future. That’s job #1, and the time for appeasement and secrecy is over.

I’m ready to help the CUAA lead the school into a proud, free, and financially sound future. As Alumni Trustee, I promise to do everything possible to achieve this goal. Thanks in advance for taking the time to vote for me (Peter Katz) while the polls are still open!

The conversation can be followed here.