The Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame was proposed in 2008 by The Office of Alumni Affairs and the Office of External Programs at The Cooper Union. What was proposed was to identify at least 150 extraordinary alumni for inclusion in the new Alumni Hall of Fame. These individuals would be celebrated throughout 2009 as part of a year of celebratory activities that would commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of The Cooper Union. They would be forever remembered in a digital library that would be available in a kiosk set up in the lobby of the Great Hall, where it would be part of the historical exhibit, Advancing The Mission The Cooper Union at 150, created by Lee Skolnick AR’79 and his company, Lee H. Skolnick Architecture +Design Partnership.
They would also be remembered in a Hall of Fame on the Alumni Website (which is a work in progress).
In 2008, it was proposed that for selecting the initial members of the Hall of Fame the following process be used. All alumni who have received Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Q. Hejduk and Gano Dunn awards, the President’s Citation, and alumni who have been recognized as Urban Visionaries would be included in the new CU Hall of Fame. Additionally, the deans of Art, Engineering and Architecture schools would select distinguished alumni from among those who had been ineligible for the above awards because they were deceased before the awards were created. That way the Hall of Fame would be representative of all 150 years of the school’s history. The Hall of Fame and the methodology for selecting the members was approved by both the Cooper Union Board of Trustees and the Cooper Union Alumni Association during 2008.
During 2008, the champions for the Hall of Fames were Ronni Denes, VP of External Affairs, Susan Moyle Lynch, Director of Alumni Affairs, and Carmi Bee, President of the Cooper Alumni Association. The school deans who assisted with making the selections were Eleanor Baum, Dean of the Nerkin School of Engineering, Anthony Vidler Dean of the Channin School of Architecture and Saskia Bos Dean of the School of Art.
The CUAA dedicated its Alumni Hall of Fame on April 17, 2009 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of The Cooper Union, celebrate founder Peter Cooper’s 218th birthday, and recognize achievements of outstanding alumni in the fields of art, architecture and engineering. That Celebration was held at the Ritz-Carleton Hotel in Battery Bark. More than 270 people attended the celebration. Setup outside the ballroom where several computers where attendees could view the searchable Hall of Fame database which was being shown for the first time. Present there to help attendees was researcher and writer, Elizabeth Hopkins A’08 and the database developers, Robert Keeler Eng’11 and Sikder Rahman Eng’11. The three students were part-time employees of the Alumni Office, headed by Susan Moyle Lynch. More information can be found on this event in the Summer 2009 edition of AtCooper Union.
Hall of Fame finds a home in the Great Hall
During the summer of 2009, work was completed on the historical exhibit, Advancing The Mission The Cooper Union at 150 and the Hall of Fame was installed there. [This version of the Hall of Fame includes only the original inductees.]
Excerpt from At Cooper Fall/Winter 2009, Article titled: Alumni Hall of Fame – Part of New Great Hall Exhibition
Established by The Cooper Union Alumni Association and dedicated during the Founder’s Day Dinner Dance on April 17, 2009, the Alumni Hall of Fame is now on two touch screens as part of Advancing the Mission: The Cooper Union at 150 and will soon be on the Cooper Union website for all to see!
The Alumni Hall of Fame includes all alumni who have received the Augustus Saint Gaudens, John Q. Hejduk and Gano Dunn awards, the President’s Citation, or who have been recognized by the college as Urban Visionaries. Additionally, the deans of each school selected distinguished alumni who, because they were deceased before the awards were created,
are included in the Alumni Hall of Fame. The Alumni Hall of Fame will be updated annually. –taken from At Cooper Fall/Winter 2009
Each Year, prior to or on Peter Cooper’s Birthday, the new inductees to the Hall of Fame chosen by the CUAA award committees are announced. In 2014, the CUAA added a new Award, The Peter Cooper Public Service Award. Alumni who receive this award are also members of the Hall of Fame.
The 2013 ceremony is memorable because it occurred while the future of The Cooper Union was uncertain. Financial difficulties created speculation amongst members of the press, that the school might close. The CUAA launched the “Where would You be without Cooper?” Campaign to raise awareness of how important the college is. These videos were filmed By Naomi Thieves A’11 and can be viewed here.
The 2014 ceremony was special because it was the first Founders Day Ceremony in decades to take place in the Great Hall, it was the first time the Peter Cooper Public Service Award was given, and it was the year that Augusta Savage was finally recognized as a member of the Cooper Union Hall of Fame.
Each year, the CUAA holds an award ceremony where the awards are presented, and the new award winners are inducted into the Hall of Fame. An Award is also given to the Alumna or Alumnus of the year, which was the first Founder’s Day Award to be established. While the award ceremony has taken place every year since 1952, the induction into the Hall of Fame has taken place every year beginning with 2009.
The ceremony is usually held in conjunction with the Founder’s Day Celebrations but has in some cases been held in conjunction with All Cooper Reunion Celebrations.
In 2016, CUAA President, Nils Folke Anderson. A’92, Presided over the CUAA Awards ceremony held at the Fish House. That year, Richard Gnagey CE’70, Recipient of the Peter Cooper Public Service Award traveled to NY from Southeast Asia to receive his award. He has spent his full career engaging local populations in the designing and building of infrastructure projects using local materials and employing some local methods of Constuction in the countries of Thailand, Indonesia, and Papua. 2016 was also the year that Adrian Jovanovic received the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award. Adrian is a co-founder and President of Committee to Save Cooper Union.
During the 2020 Hall of Fame Ceremony we learned some fascinating details about the awardees and the connections that they made as students. Eli Reshotko PhD. E’50, the Gano Dunn Award Recipient began his talk by saying he is probably the only person in the room that actually met and knew Gano Dunn. He then shared some memories from his time as a student at The Cooper Union while Gano Dunn was the school president.
Juan Sanchez A’77, the Augustus Saint-Gauden’s Day recipient spoke about his journey to the Cooper Union and about his career following Cooper. He mentioned that he is and alumnus of the Saturday Program and he was pleased that that program was being recognized this evening. Marina Guitierrez A’81, the recipient of the Peter Cooper Public Service Award, spoke about her work with the Saturday Program spanning a period of 40 Years.
Hall of Fame Celebrations
- 2009 April 17, 2009 at Ritz-Carleton, NY at Battery Park Learn More
- 2010 April 16, 2010 at the Roosevelt Hotel Learn More
- 2011 April 14, 2011 at the Roosevelt Hotel Learn More Photos
- 2012 February 6, 2012 at Gustavino’s Learn More Photos
- 2013 February 5, 2013 at Gustavino’s Learn More Photos Video
- 2014 April 14, 2014 in The Great Hall Learn More Photos More Photos Video
- 2015 April 26, 2015 in The Great Hall Learn More Learn More Photos More Photos
- 2016 June 2, 2016 at the Fish House which is the CU President’s Residence Learn More Photos
- 2017 June 3, 2017 in Rose Auditorium Learn More Photos More Photos
- 2018 June 1, 2018 in Rose Auditorium Learn More Photos
- 2019 in Rose Auditorium Learn More Photos
- 2020 February 12, 2020 in Rose Auditorium Learn More Photos Video
- 2021 February 10, 2021 Virtual Event Video
- 2022 February 10, 2022 Virtual Event Video
- 2023 February 9, 2023 in the Rose Auditorium Learn More Video