The 2022 CU Reunion began on Friday, June 3, 2022, with an opportunity to view items from the CU Library Archives laid out on the tables of the library. Alumni had a chance to view yearbooks and other items from the past including graduation programs and publicity for Great Hall events.
Alumni then gathered on the Alumni Terrace for the Welcome Reception.
Alumni came from several states for this event. They came from California, Florida, North Carolina and from the tri-state area. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the low 80s. Alumni were welcomed by Board of Trustees Chair Malcom King ME’97.
Alumni then gathered in the Great Hall for a presentation that began at 6:30 PM, titled Introduction to the Voices from the Great Hall Digital Archive. The presentation was made by the director of the CU Library, Lisa Norberg. She included an explanation of how the project began and thanked Laura Sparks for her support and Steve Hillyer AR’90 for leading the effort. A video was shown showing the range of materials that were digitized to make the archive possible.
On Saturday, June 4, 2022, alumni were served breakfast outside on the portion of 7th Street that is closed to traffic and that serves as the front yard for the Foundation Building. The breakfast was served buffet style. Once again, the weather was beautiful and alumni had an opportunity to mingle.
State of The Cooper Union presentation was given in the Great Hall from 10:00-11:30 a.m.
CU President Laura Sparks spoke via a taped recording, CU Board Chair Malcolm King EE’97 welcomed the alumni and celebrated the presence of the Golden Legion alumni as well as each of the class years celebrating an anniversary milestone. He also acknowledged alumni from each of the alumni giving societies.
Dean Barry L. Shoop of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering spoke about the various faculty who have come on board during recent years and also gave some statistics about the class that will begin in the fall of 2022. This fall, 38% of the tenured professors in the school of engineering will be female. The entering freshman class in the fall will be slightly smaller than last year’s incoming class, with 123 students. The most noteworthy statistic for that class is that 50% of the new engineering class are female. There will be a one week bridge program for the incoming freshman just before the beginning of the fall semester that will help prepare the students for the rigors of CU. It will be taught in part by existing students. Dean Barry L. Shoop mentioned that he helped introduce a bio-engineering minor soon after he arrived at Cooper. At the 2022 graduation, 11 students graduated with that minor. Seven professors are working over the summer to rework the curriculum for the capstone courses that will be given in the fall so that they are more interdisciplinary. He than showed a video on the Vertically Integrated Program (VIP) teams which showcased some of the teams. Link to VIP Video
Dean Mike Essl of the Art School spoke about changes in the Art School. He said that the school has hired 10 adjunct professors. It has made some significant revisions to the Foundation Year curriculum. All freshman courses will now be 5 hours instead of 4. The Art School will be offering an orientation class for incoming freshman that will be held the week before the fall semester begins. The school has approved a minor in the History of Art. It is offering a new class on technology called Computational Studio. Next semester will include a class on NFTs and Block Chain and there will be several workshops on other computer tools. The school re-instituted in-person shows this year and that included 54 Senior Shows this spring. He then showed a video about the IDC Foundation Art, Architecture, Construction and Engineering (AACE) lab. AACE Lab.
Dean Nader Tehrani of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture spoke via a taped recording. He mentioned that during his 7 years at the Cooper Union, improvements have been made to the first 3 years of the architecture curriculum. He has helped develop some collaborations with HELP-USA, En Ferma Gallery, and the Governors Island Artist in Residence Program. This is Dean Nader Tehrani’s final State of the School presentation as a dean. He will be continuing to teach at the Cooper Union. Associate Dean Hayley Eber AR’01 of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture continued the presentation about changes in the school.
Eber spoke about the new Civic Projects Lab overseen by its Director, David Gersten AR’91. This lab uses data analytics to do social good. It partners with non-profits in the NYC area so that students get experience solving real world problems. The Civic Projects Lab is located on the ground floor of the 41 Cooper Square Building in the space that was previously leased out. The Civic Projects Lab was made possible by financial support from the Menchel family.
Associate Dean Nada Ayad of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences spoke next. She announced that Brian Swann, who has been on the Humanities faculty or 50 years, has retired. She also spoke about the minors in the Humanities and Social Sciences that are now available to Engineering and Architecture majors. The list of minors is available here.
Then a video featuring CU President Laura Sparks was shown. Laura reminded all that back in 2018 the Board of Trustees began a 10-year program to get the school back to full-tuition scholarships. She announced that Cooper is still on track to get there. She added that the college is committed to attracting and serving really curious and committed young people.
Chairman of the Board Malcolm King EE’97 then gave some updates on the school’s fundraising efforts. He began by saying that “the college is not just getting back to free, it is also committed to maintaining high quality education.” He said that the Cooper Union did quite well during the pandemic. He encouraged alumni to read the latest Financial Monitor’s report. That report says that we are on-track, but still need increases in annual giving. Right now, 42% of students have full scholarships and the average scholarship for all students is more than 70%.
Next there was a short question and answer period. An abbreviated summary of those questions is given here.
Q: What Majors are given in the Engineering School today?
A: (Dean Shoop)The 4 traditional Engineering disciplines are ABET accredited, and we have a General Engineering major. We also have minors in Math, Computer Science, Bio-Engineering, and Humanities.
Q: What was the impact of Remote Learning on students and could this be a way to increase the number of students that can attend?
A: (Dean Essl) We needed to send video cameras and white boards to all the art students. It increased our costs.
A: (Dean Shoop) Engineering is very lab-oriented. We had to ship projects to students located around the world. We found that the students developed a deeper understanding of the project material, but there was less collaboration. The students are happy to be back to in-person learning.
A: (Assoc. Dean Eber) The Architecture school kept the lab spaces open with limits on occupancy. We were able to increase the variety of guest speakers and had speakers from around the world. Now the students are glad to be back and enjoy making models.
A: (Assoc. Dean Ayad) We were able to offer a greater variety of lectors, but we were less able to have discussions.
Q: Has there been any thoughts on bringing back the Physics major or about raising the Bio-Engineering minor to a major?
A: (Dean Shoop) No. A Bio-Engineering Major would require wet labs and the school has space restraints.
Q: Is there a possibility that you could partner with local companies for the wet labs?
A: (Dean Shoop) We have partnerships with Mount Sinai and other hospitals that our bio-engineering students work with on projects, but that is different from a Bio-Engineering 105 Laboratory experience.
Q. I entered the Cooper Union as an Art student. I took an Architecture course, Tectonics, and changed my major to Architecture. Is there cross-fertilization between the schools?
A. (Dean Essl) For the coming year, we have inserted some blocks in the block schedule to facilitate students taking courses in one of the other schools.
Q. When I attended the Engineering School, I was not allowed to take the Humanities minor. Are there still limitations on who can take certain minors?
A. (Dean Shoop) Most minors are open to all, but there are some restrictions on the Computer Science minor.
Q. What is included in the new orientation classes on “How to be a Student?”
A. (Dean Essl) Many of our students come from magnet schools where they are sometimes weak in the academic subjects that we have in Humanities and Social Services (HSS).
A. (Dean Shoop) For the engineering students, students may need strengthening in math/calculus and time management skills — not Humanities and Social Services (HSS).
Q. Since there isn’t a Green Camp anymore, what does the school have that encourages interaction between students of the different schools?
A. (CUAA President R. Tan) Now the school has a dormitory which has greatly increased interschool interactions.
A. (Dean Essl) With improvement to the block schedule, the HSS classes are much more interdisciplinary.
Q. When did the school stop having in-person testing for admittance to Cooper Union?
A. (Dean Essl) The in-person test was for the Art School. It was replaced with the Home Test many years ago. The Home Test includes 6 assignments that are new each year and designed by 6 different faculty members.
Q. Is there a program for helping students find summer internships and permanent positions?
A. (M. King) Career Services are much better today than in the 1990s.
A. (Dean Essl) For art students, a lot of career searching is done through networking — not so much through career services.
Then alumni then went to two locations for lunch.
- Golden Legion Luncheon – The Library at The Public Theater: Honoring our new Golden Legion members of the Class of 1972, plus members of the Class of 1977 and all earlier classes. Hosted by Dean Barry L. Shoop of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering.
- All Other Classes Luncheon – Phebe’s Tavern and Grill: Members of the Class of 1978 and all later classes.
Following lunch, some alumni attended a discussion given by Tracy Green Landauer about living wills, trusts and taxes. The event was titled Planning for Change—Keeping Your Options Open. The event was held in the 2nd floor conference room in the 41 Cooper Square building.
Then there were tours of the school’s newest and oldest facilities which include the AACE Lab, the Library Archives and the Civics Lab. The AACE Lab is used by students in all three schools. It is located on the 4th floor of the Foundation Building adjacent to the pre-existing machine shop. The Metal Working Shop is used to fabricate items in metal. The AACE Lab is used to fabricate items in polymers, foam board, MDF, plywood, wood, and aluminum. The water-jet cutter and laser cutter can cut aluminum in addition to non-metals.
The guided Library Archives tour was given by retired Humanities Professor Peter Buckley.
The Civic Projects Lab tour was given by Director David Gersten AR’91 and Professor Sam Keene.
In the evening, the reunion cruise left from Chelsea Piers on the west side of Manhattan. It sailed around the lower tip of Manhattan and south to the Statue of Liberty, before sailing between Manhattan and Brooklyn on the East River. It turned around near the Williamsburg Bridge and followed the same route back to its dock at Chelsea Piers. The cruise included a sit-down dinner served buffet-style, an area for dancing, and multiple outdoor spaces for alumni to socialize. The Spirit of New York is a large ship which allowed space for alumni to mingle and have conversations. The festivities ended at 10 PM.