The May 2018 CUAA Council meeting was held on May 28, 2018.  16 Council Members and 5 guests attended at least a portion of this meeting.  The meeting was held in two halves.  The first half was held at 30 Cooper Square and the second half was held at 41 Cooper Square.  The Meeting began with Part I of the Thankathon.  From 6 to 7PM, Council members made thank you call to alumni who have already donated this year and let them know how much those gifts are appreciated.  The calls were made from the Office of Alumni Affairs at 30 Cooper Square.

At 7:25 PM, CUAA President Paul Nikulin CE’06 opened the business portion of the meeting in room 201/201A of 41 Cooper Square.

During the Business portion of the Meeting, CUAA President, Paul Nikulin CE’06 asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the February Council meeting.  Margaret made the motion which was seconded by Shankar Venkataraman. There were not enough council members to take the vote during the meeting at this time, so it will be done later.

Paul thanked everyone who was on the ballot for the spring election for running and said that those who did not win a seat are still welcome at all meetings and events and can still work on committees and be very much involved.  The results of the election are as follows.  Vote tallies are provided only for the officer positions.

Announcement of Election Results

Paul read the following election results which were also provided on slides.

Alumni Trustee

Christina Aguirre-Ross, AR ’81   367


Mary K. Lynch ChE ’82              696


Stephen Verderese, EE ‘84        683

Vice President Faculty-Student Liaison

Margaret Matz, AR ‘83               672

Vice President of Events

Kelly Occhiuzzo Zack A’90         369 

Nominating Committee Chair

Kay Nordstrom, ME ‘77              433

Alumni Council

Claudia F. Giordano, A 1976

Caitlin (Katie) Correll, ME 2012

Beatriz Ponce, ME 2011

Lily Zand, AR 1988

Daniel P. Burke, Esq., ChE 1981

Lawrence (Larry) Levine, AR 1969

Dr. James Haywood Rolling, Jr., A 1988

Shankar Venkataraman, BSE 2003

Sabeel Yosef, CE 2005

Jennifer Collins, A 1993

Bernard (Bernie) Codd, ChE 1983

Mark O’Grady, A 1976

Council Alternates

Anthony Manganiello, CE 2006

Standish Lee, AR 2011

Westley Rozen, AR 2005

Genevieve Martin, A 2011

Christopher Panebianco, ChE 2016

Brendan Butler, EE 2007

Justin Richter, ChE 2016

Mary Lynch reminded everyone that council terms are three years in length.  Most years, the council officers are elected from the council members leaving vacancies that are then filled by the council alternates.  Paul Nikulin  added that this year we filled 4 council seats using alternates.

Nominating Committee

Kay Nordstrom, ME 1977 (Chair)

Susan Shaw, A 1972

Darrell Low, EE 1989

Laura Spinner, A 1989

James Liubicich, ChE 1983

Elizabeth Graziolo, AR 1995

Stephen Vederese, EE 1984

Daniel P. Burke, Esq., ChE 1981

Tim Lim, CE 2012

Scott Lyne, ChE 1992

Nominating Committee Alternates

Shankar Venkataraman, BSE 2003

Curtis B. Wayne, AR 1975

Anthony Manganiello, CE 2006

Nick Vargas, CE 2006

Dennis Kong, IDE 2008

Announcement of Alum of the Year

Paul Nikulin announced that this award goes to Nils Folke Anderson A’94.  Nils is a former CUAA President and he was instrumental to healing the rift that existed between the alumni council and the school administration.

Announcement of Young Alum of the Year

Paul Nikulin announced that this award goes to Shankar Venkataraman BSE’03.  He mentioned Shankar was one of the first people he worked with on the council.  He remembers working with him on the first election committee.  He thanked Shankar for all that he has done.

Awards Ceremony Plans

Laura Spinner gave an update on the plans for the Award presentation.  86 people have bought tickets so far.  Last year’s attendance was 150.  All are encouraged to buy tickets and ask your alumni friends to buy tickets. The Ceremony will be on June 1st in the Rose Auditorium beginning at 6:15 PM and the Party will be on the roof of this building beginning at 7:30PM.  There were some questions about the reasons for the ticket price.  Laura explained that the ticket price would have been more if the event was held at another location.  Because we are having the event at the school, we just have to pay the caterer which is $70. per person.  The early bird ticket price is $70.  The regular ticket price is $80. We comp tickets for the awardees and one guest.

End or Year Show Event Recap

On May 22nd there was a casual alumni event where alumni met up at McSorley’s with Amy Westphfahl A’00  and then went with her for a guided tour of the student works in the End of Year Show.  Amy Westphfahl works at The Cooper Union as Coordinator of Recruitment & Admissions and as adjunct professor in the Art School.  Paul Nikulin said it was a great event. The Alumni Office provided some swag items to identify the group at McSorley’s.  A nice size group came for the Happy Hour portion.  Once the group went over to the school, some of the group went off into smaller groups.  Paul said that Amy is willing to do a similar event next year.  We may try switching the social component of the event to an after-party next year. 

Glass House Trip Recap

Cristina Aguirre-Ross AR’81 provided a recap of the trip to Philip Johnson’s Glass House which was held on Saturday, May 19th in New Caanan, CT.  She said it was successful.  We had a total of 60 tickets. An anonymous donor underwrote 10 tickets for students. A few days before the event, there were some tickets still unsold to alumni that Cristina purchased.  She gave those away to additional Cooper Students.  On the day of the event we had heavy rain and some alumni who had bought tickets did not show up.  We also had 3 people come in as walk-ins.  A young man who was the son of Paul Strassman CE’58 came with his wife and daughter.  We welcomed them into the group.  They paid Cristina, so we made a small profit.  Mary Lynch commented that she met several alumni from the Westchester area that were coming to their first alumni event.

More Casual Events

Paul Nikulin mentioned that during his earlier conversations with the alumni office, he confirmed that the school would like to do more of these alumni trip events because they are good for increasing alumni involvement.  What we need are people to volunteer to be the champion for an event.  This involves making the arrangements and showing up on the day of the event to do the signing in and welcoming of alumni.  The school will handle the on-line registration and money collection.  We are looking to set up 4 or 5 of these events during the coming year.  Mary Lynch mentioned that this is something that alumni living outside the NYC area can do as well.  Both the CUAA and the School Alumni Office will help with logistics for an alumni casual event in another city.

Upcoming Events

Paul Nikulin announced that Victoria Sobel A’13 and Casey Gollan A’13 will again be chairing the Peter Cooper Block Party Committee.  The Block Party will be held in September coinciding with the Astor Alive event.

Paul Nikulin mention that tomorrow night is part II of the Thankathon.  We will meet again in 30 Cooper Square, 8th Floor to make additional calls to donors.   We also have the Reunion Weekend coming up on June 1st and 2nd.  Mary mentioned that reunion weekend is open to all alumni, not just those celebrating a milestone year.

Annual Fund Update

Carol Wolf A’84 submitted a written statement that Mary Lynch read aloud.  It was this summary:

Current total: $2,500,384

Up 16% from this time last year

Alumni total: $1,818,148

Up 18% from this time last year

Total Alumni donors: 2,365

Up 3% from this time last year

Average Alumni gift: $769

Up 14% from this time last year

Increased Importance of Fundraising

The approved plan to return to full tuition scholarships calls for an increase in current-use fundraising by an average of $1.2 million (or 25%) annually over the next five years and by an average of 11% annually for the next five years thereafter.

Increased current-use fundraising accounts for over 50% of the financial initiatives that comprise the FEC plan to return to free

501c3 Update

Paul Nikulin said that he has gone back and forth with the Attorney General’s office making requested minor changes in wording.  He hopes that process will be completed soon and then the paperwork can be submitted to the state.

New Business

Mary Lynch asked all committee chairs to please send in their end-of-year reports for their respective committees.  This is a constitutional requirement.  The years ends on June 30th.   Paul Nikulin mentioned that these reports are especially necessary this year as we file for 501c3 status.  It is important that we follow our constitution and maintain good records.

Paul Nikulin introduced an item of new business.  He believes the CUAA should put out a letter to the membership supporting the CU Trustee’s FEC plan for getting us back to Tuition Free within ten years.  This would be a letter that would be distributed soon so that alumni see it before the end of the fiscal year which ends on June 30th.  A discussion ensued for approximately 20 minutes.  A subcommittee was formed to draft the statement.  That committee consists of Margaret Matz AR’83, Kay Nordstrom CE, Claudia Giordano Lasky A’76, Nils Folke Anderson A’94, Brian Rose A’79, Ron Vogel ChE’01, Carol Wolf A’84, Laura Spinner A’89, Dan Burke ChE’81.  The committee will be co-chaired by Brian Rose and Claudia Giordano Lasky.  They are being given until June 6th to craft the first draft of the statement which will then be circulated via e-mail to the full council for comment.

Thank you to those who are leaving office

Paul Nikulin thanked the following alumni for whom this is the final meeting of their respective terms.  They are:


Ciera Lowe ChE ’14

Vice President/Faculty and Student Liaison

Daren Rogers AR ’05

Council Members

Ed Abaid CE’76

Gene Tulchin A’55

Ira Silfin ME’85

Paul Garrin A’82

Susan Shaw A’72

Westley Rozen AR’05

Kathryn Berry AR’80

Bhaskar Krishnamachari EE’98

Meeting Closure

Paul Nikulin made a motion to close the meeting.  Darrel Low seconded the motion.  The motion carried.

The meeting ended at 9 PM.

Minutes prepared by:  Mary Lynch, CUAA Secretary