Running For: Alumni Trustee
I’m running for Alumni Trustee because I’m worried about the future. The Cooper community has been through some pivotal moments in the last decade, but I believe things have never been more critical than they are at this very moment.
We are currently in Year Three of the 10-year Plan to Return to Full-Tuition Scholarships, and through much hard work – and a good deal of sacrifice and great generosity – we remain on track with the Plan’s milestones. That’s really great news. But the Plan’s fundraising targets will continue to increase with each year, and I am greatly troubled to learn that alumni participation numbers are currently waning. Now is not the time for our resolve to fade – not when so many members from all corners of our community have worked so tirelessly for so long to put us back on the path to free tuition.
If Peter Cooper’s vision is of value to us, we must work hard to redouble our efforts as a community; we must never allow ourselves to grow comfortable with tuition, even as a temporary revenue source. I have spent the last decade building strong relationships with Cooper alumni, faculty, students, and the Administration, working towards a goal that we all hold dear — to return to Peter Cooper’s vision and foundational principle of free education for all who attend his institution.
As your elected Alumni Trustee, I will be vigilant in making sure the Board stays focused on working toward the success of the 10-Year Plan. I’ll bring expertise in branding and communications that will help Cooper hone its public image and outreach efforts. And, as an alum of the Art School, I will fill a void in representation that will be left when our only currently elected Alumni Trustee from the Art School terms off the Board in June.
I firmly believe that the full-tuition scholarship model is key to our past and future success. Others may choose to debate the necessity of being free, but it should be undisputed now that when he founded this school, Peter Cooper’s vision was for it to be free to ALL students. So in closing, I’d like to revisit a quote by Peter Cooper himself – one that many of us are very familiar with. He said, “In the course of a century there will, of course, be a great number of graduates of the Cooper Union, and the day will surely come when these graduates will rally round this institution…and if the plans I have formed can be executed in no other way, they will see they are carried out.” This entreaty comes directly to us as alumni. Peter Cooper knew that he could trust us more than anyone else to understand and protect his intentions for this institution…his vision. We are, after all, the beneficiaries of his big idea. It is, for this reason, I would like to serve as your elected Alumni Trustee.
Thank you for your consideration.
Carol (Robinson) Wolf graduated with a BFA from the School of Art in 1984. She was recipient of the A.A. Low Fund Prize for Excellence in Art. Carol is currently a Council Member, Co-chair of the CUAA Annual Fund committee and Co-chair of the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award committee. She is the CUAA representative on the Art Admissions Committee and frequently assists other committees and groups within the Cooper community with graphic design. In 2017, Carol was honored as CUAA Alumna of the Year.
Carol has been actively engaged in the efforts to preserve the school’s full scholarship model since 2011. Understanding the transformative value of communication – a key takeaway from her student years at Cooper – Carol focuses her energies on helping to disseminate clear and accurate information about Peter Cooper’s vision and the ongoing struggles at his beloved institution. She has corresponded regularly with Board Chairs and trustees over the years, participated in discussions on social media, and reported for the CUAA newsletter. When a false narrative claiming that wealthy women paid “tuition” for art classes during Cooper Union’s early years began to appear in the press as the Administration’s justification for charging tuition, Carol worked proactively with the New York Times, Associated Press and other news media to correct the public record. The historical documentation she shared with them elicited the publishing of public corrections.
As a vocal supporter of the Committee to Save Cooper Union, Carol played a lead role – along with her husband Bill Wolf A’84 and M’Liz Keefe A’85 – in a fundraising effort that mobilized 18 alumni artists who donated their work to raise money for the CSCU Legal Fund’s settlement negotiations. In August 2014, as the court date for CSCU’s legal challenge approached, Ms. Wolf called for an emergency Council meeting, during which her co-authored statement was ratified by the CUAA Council. This statement reaffirmed the Alumni Association’s commitment to a return to free tuition for all students, challenging the Administration’s claim that a “majority” of alumni accepted and supported the Tuition Plan. This directly backed a key argument in CSCU’s settlement negotiations, which resulted in the Consent Decree setting Cooper back on a path to free tuition.
With the signing of the Consent Decree and the development and approval of The Cooper Union Plan to Return to Full Tuition Scholarships, Ms. Wolf has committed to making sure the CUAA plays an active and vocal role in the prudent restoration of free tuition at Cooper Union. She considers this a matter of great urgency, and believes it should be our highest priority as alumni – and it is for this reason that she agreed to serve as Annual Fund chair for the last five years.
Carol is a graphic designer with over 35 years of experience creating and building brands for global clients in a wide range of industries. Currently an independent consultant, she has worked for leading branding firms including Landor Associates, Interbrand and FutureBrand NY. Her client list consists of numerous Fortune 500 corporations and others, including IBM, Bank of America, DuPont, Underwriters Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, GM, AT&T, the Palm Islands in Dubai, and the PGA European Tour. Carol also oversees The Cottage Place Gallery in Ridgewood, NJ., where she has presented the work of several Cooper alumni. Carol and her husband Bill are currently building a collection of historical Cooper-related memorabilia and ephemera.