Over the past few weeks, John Leeper, Peter Ross, Sean Cusack and I have had several conversations with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
I was pleased to learn that the Office of the Attorney General recognizes the CUAA as an essential voice in our community, and fully appreciates the importance of reestablishing a working relationship between the CUAA and both the school and the Board of Trustees.
Our conversations have mainly focused on the question of how CUAA representation on the Board can be increased, including — hypothetically — how we would approach the nomination and election of additional alumni trustees.
At the encouragement of the OAG, CUAA leadership is continuing this discussion directly with representatives from the Board of Trustees.
To that end, John, Peter, Sean and I will meet with representatives of the Board of Trustees this coming week. We intend to focus on two things:
Identifying shared principles to guide our conversation
Framing a proposal to be presented for discussion, input, and eventual approval by both the CUAA Council and the Board of Trustees
Note that any future meetings with representatives of the Board to continue this discussion will be conducted by the newly elected leadership of the CUAA. John Leeper and Peter Ross will be in this discussion only as an introductory bridge and will not be part of future discussions.
Our Nominating Committee has already made enormous strides in starting this process by analyzing possible protocols if there were to be an election, and they will be collecting from the Council additional feedback about potential additional CUAA representation on the Board. This will include the questions that have already been raised by Council and Nominating Committee members over the last week.
This feedback will be presented as a report by the Nominating Committee, to inform discussion of any proposal for a possible CUAA election for additional alumni representation on Board of Trustees.
This past week, I extended an apology to the Council for the sloppy way in which this delicate subject was handled at last Monday’s Council meeting. It is an apology I would extend to our entire community. As I said in my email, the topic of increased alumni representation on the Board of Trustees, and all the people who have worked so hard to get us this far, deserve far better.
I pledge that will happen.
But I am distressed at the level of alienation and mistrust I am witnessing within the CUAA.
Everyone who loves Cooper Union has experienced a collective trauma over the past four years, and the pain from that is easily triggered. Misunderstandings and mistakes are quickly compounded. Structural issues are quickly personalized.
This has got to change. I believe that the CUAA is what we, collectively, make of it. Facilitating that, making that a reality, is my highest priority. I want this year to be about inclusion, participation, and engagement. I want to see what happens when our individual strengths act in unison.
For anyone who wants to see change in the CUAA, now is your moment of opportunity.
We need to be absolutely clear: change is difficult, and it’s going to take a long time. Not days or weeks, but months and years. This is an all volunteer organization that was exiled from the school less than one year ago. All of us work to make a living, we have families. Mistakes will be made, and we do not have the luxury to throw up our arms in despair when that happens. It is up to all of us to meet those moments with the same patience and grace that Peter Cooper brought to his many failures, knowing that success must eventually follow.
I ask you to express your concerns and disappointments with the expectation that as a group we will address them with respect and consideration. But more importantly, I ask you to be the agent of the change you wish to see.
I look forward to working with all of you.
With best regards,
Nils Anderson A’94