Announcing the 2018 Recipients of the CUAA Founder’s Day Hall of Fame Awards:

Each of these awardees will receive their award and be inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame on June 1, 2018.

Gano Dunn Award for professional achievement in engineering, industry, science, or finance

Richard Sarles CE’67 has spent his entire career in public service. He has succeeded in significantly improving the quality of mass transit in New Jersey, in the Washington DC Metro Area, and the full Northeast Corridor.  As the CEO of the Washingon Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, he helped transform the culture and governance of the organization.  As Assistant Executive Director and then Executive Director of NJ Transit, he advanced the business plan to construction start of Hudson River rail tunnels.  At Amtrak, first as Assistant Vice President and then Vice President, he led the implementation of the Acela high speed rail service from Washington, DC to Boston.  At the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, his accomplishments include an overhaul of many passenger cars and the manufacture of new PATH cars in New York. He also oversaw the modernization and reconstruction of major trans-Hudson facilities. Richard Sarles received a Cooper Union Presidential Citation in 2011.



Peter Cooper Public Service Award for exemplary service to the public

Joanna Sherman A’69 is the founder and Artistic Director of Bond Street Theatre. She has been initiating and directing theatre projects for social improvement globally since 1984 and in Afghanistan since 2002.  Her company works primarily in post-war, refugee and disadvantaged communities, collaborating with local artists, and applying the arts to the peacebuilding process. Current focus areas: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Lebanon and Tunisia.  Joanna received the 2014 Lee Reynolds Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women and the 2015 Otto Award for Political Theatre, and served as a Cultural Envoy in Myanmar in 2010. Under her directorship, the company received a MacArthur Award for its interdisciplinary and intercultural programming. She has been an advocate and speaker on the role of the arts in peacebuilding at the United Nations, National Council on Women, US Institute of Peace, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, UN Conference on Women in China, universities, and other arts fora, and featured on CNN, BBC, NPR, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Publications include The Children of Afghanistan (University of Texas Press) and articles in American Theatre and Women in Theatre magazines.



John Q. Hejduk Award for professional achievement in architecture

Michael Samuelian AR’95 is the President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island and an Assistant Professor of architecture at The Cooper Union.  He was previously a Vice President with Related Companies, where his work focused on the design of large-scale public private development projects. He was responsible for the urban planning and design of Hudson Yards. Michael’s professional career has focused on large-scale commercial and urban planning projects with Machado Silvetti in Boston, SMWM in San Francisco and HOK Architects in New York.  At HOK he was the lead designer on a number of commercial, transportation and institutional projects including; Penn Station Acela Improvements, the Integrated Science Facility at SUNY Geneseo and the Somerset Corporate Center.



Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art

Katie Merz A’84 is an artist, illustrator, muralist, and professor. She has been working as a fine artist for over 30 years. Her thematic devotion to purity of line is expressed through a variety of art forms, ranging from drawing to painting to illustration and cartooning, to large-scale public art commissions. Her signature-style, densely packed glyph patterns create complex, non-linear narratives that can cover a sneaker or a building with equal effectiveness. Her work conjures up long stories about what “it” is that makes a place. Her abstract paintings steer her message away from literal narrative toward a kind of colorful atmospheric poetry. Katie taught drawing at Cooper for a number of years, and her Williamsburg mural project, featured on Cooper’s website in 2016 (link), has delighted countless New Yorkers.



Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art (posthumously)

Jack Whitten A’64 was a leading, recognized figure in contemporary art, and a beloved Cooper Union Art professor for many years. President Barack Obama honored him with the 2015 National Medal of the Arts. This medal was created by the United States Congress in 1984 and is considered to be the among the most prestigious awards granted to an individual in the arts. In 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, California, hosted a major retrospective exhibition which later traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Walker Art Center.  A 40-work survey of his sculptures will open in April 2018 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and will later travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Whitten passed away on January 20, 2018. He was 78.