October, 2019                                                 October 2019 CUAA Council Meeting

The October 10, 2019 Council meeting was held in the Rose Auditorium.  23 alumni, students, and staff attended in person.  7 participated via WebEx.

 CU President, Margaret Matz AR’81, opened the meeting at PM.  A motion was made to approve the minutes of the September, 2019 meeting by Mina Greenstein.  It was seconded by Mark O’Grady.  3 alumni suggested corrections. The minutes were approved with corrections made by Laura Spinner A’89, Carol Wolf A’85, and Barry Drogin EE’82.

 Margaret Matz made some introductory remarks and one announcement.  She thanked Mark A. Vasquez ME’88 and Michael Carrasquillo for setting up the AV equipment for WebEx.  She said that she thinks this will help us reach more people, especially those with physical challenges.  She then remarked that some of the challenges that we have ahead are to clarify our status as a non-profit organization either 501c7 or 501c3.  She also announced that the CUAA will have an event on Saturday, October 26 that is a combination of art exhibit and poetry reading.  The artists are two alumni of The Cooper Union, Jean-Ulrick Désert and Cozbi Cabrera, and Charles Matz and Lasana Sekou.  It will be room 201/201A of 41 Cooper Square from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Annual Giving Committee Co-Chair, Kelly Smollar ME’07, gave that committee’s report.  She said that the CUAA will continue promoting the 5 Million Dollar Match program appeal and the Giving Tuesday effort.  Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following the Thanksgiving Holiday.  She also relayed that CU VP Terri Coopersmith expressed interest in obtaining about 10 charity spots in the 2020 NYC Marathon.

CUAA VP Faculty and Student Liaison summarized the recent activity of his committee.  He said that he and Margaret Matz met with the Dean of the Art School, Mike Essl A’96, and that Donato Gicalone AR’83 met with the Dean of the Architecture School, Nadar Teharani, and with the Dean of the Engineering School, Barry Shoop.  Mark said that all the Deans were very receptive to working with the CUAA and were candid.  Dean Essl was very positive about the new academic year.  The Art School ha 4 new faculty members and the school would like to start an art archive.  It is also exploring study abroad options for students.  He would like to work with alumni on some career training that focuses on the business side of art.  Mark mentioned that Mike Essl thinks the CUAA website is confusing and though that maybe some of the art students might be able to help with website design.  Mark mentioned that some art students have already offered to help with developing some graphics.  Mark mentioned that Mina Greenstein A’56 and Carol Wolf A’84 who attended some of the recent CU faculty meetings.

Mina Greenstein A’56 mentioned that one of the things she learned from attending a recent Art School faculty meeting is that the Art School is dropping its membership in the Art & Design Advocacy group.  She explained that the school joined in the past for two reasons.  One was for access to art and design magazines and the other was to support advocacy for these fields.  The library has determined there are less expensive ways to get access to the magazines. The Art School feels that the membership dues are too high and that the group doesn’t do much advocacy work. 

Carol Wolf A’85 attended a CU Admissions Committee meeting.  She reported that the school has hired a new VP for Enrollment.  His name is Mark Campbell.  He replaces Mitch Lipton who left more than a year ago.  The school has also hired Gaby Bucay as an Assistant Director.  She also learned that there are some Portfolio Days coming up soon.

Donato Gicalone AR’83 attended two of the meetings with deans and he reported that the deans had both announced that both Dean Teharani and Dean Shoop talked about their respective goals and about creation of new interdisciplinary programs and both look forward to creating partnerships with alumni to do ad-hoc fundraising for a variety of projects that are underfunded.  The schools operating budget is being cut by 7%.

Mary Lynch ChE’82 asked Carol Wolf if during the Admission Committee meeting, she learned anything about the Alumni Ambassadors Program as there has been no mention of it yet this year.  It was a program begun by Mitch Lipton and continued by Abby Davis where by the Admissions Office partnered with alumni to cover high school college fairs.  Carol said that Abby Davis has also left, and she encouraged Mary to reach out directly to Mark Campbell.

Scott Lyne ChE’92 asked Carol Wolf if she knew why there was a mass exodus from the Admissions Office?  Carol responded that there has been an almost complete turnover in the Admissions staff from 2 years ago, but can only speculate on the reasons.  Carol added that the current staff is very dedicated.  A student who identified herself as Alexis shared her opinion that following Mitch Lipton’s departure more than a year ago, and the failure of the school to replace him and others, that the remaining staff felt overworked and underpaid.

Mark O’Grady announced that he is still looking far a few more alumni to attend some of the faculty meetings in the Engineering school.  Interested alumni should contact him.

Margaret Matz than introduced Ira Pierce ME’61 who is a member of the faculty for The Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers (RPIE) program, to talk about that program.

Ira Pierce explained that the RPIE program began in 1987 through a partnership with Bnai Zion.  Since 2016 the program has been supported by CAMBA.  It trains immigrants who have received engineering or architecture training in other countries, in topics that help them obtain employment here in the building management and construction trades.  Ira said that the graduates would like to give back to The Cooper Union, and he would like to see the CUAA do some outreach to the RPIE alumni.  He also said that many RPIE students wish to network with Cooper Union alumni.  Barry Drogin EE’82 volunteered to help with the outreach effort.  Mary Lynch asked if the RPIE program is open to immigrants from all countries or just some.  Ira said that in the program’s early years it was for immigrants from the former Soviet Bloc countries, but today it is open to all immigrants.

Communications Committee Chair, Anthony Maganiello CE’06 spoke about the goals that he has for the Communications committee.  He displayed the mind-map that he made of all the activities performed by members of the Communications committee and explained the one that he wishes to focus on improving this year.  He wants to improve the way that various communications come into the committee so that they can be posted to the website.  He would like to add some plug and play modules that would make it easier for committee chairs to update material related to their committees automatically.  Shankar Venkataraman BSE’03, gave an overview of the various places that alumni email addresses are stored and his opinion on their security.  There is MailChimp. There is an Excel spreadsheet, and there is the website.  The MailChimp data base is used by a small group of council members who can send out email blasts.  The largest database is the spreadsheet file.  He is the only one with access to that spreadsheet.  That is what he uses to send out election ballots.  The website has a list of email addresses of alumni that register there, but no alumni names are stored with those emails.  Also, the website list of emails includes many non-alumni.  Mary Lynch gave a short overview of the current website, cooperalumni.org.  she also presented a slide showing which popular functions you go to the CUAA site and which ones you go to the School alumni site for.  The official Alumni directory is located on the school site.  So is registration for any event that has a fee.

Communications committee co-chair, Mark A. Vasquez ME’88 described what the committee has accomplished so far this year and the committee’s goals.  One goal is to have fewer events than in recent years, but to have them well planned.  Another goal is establishing a good relationship with the alumni office and work to do a better job of identifying which events are CUAA events and which events are school events.  The committee would also like to have either an Alumni Showcase event or an Alumni Hangout each third Thursday of the month.  He is hopeful that the CUAA Council will endorse the committee’s approach.  The committee’s short-term goals include formalizing the event calendar through December and then getting both the CUAA EXE Com and Council’s approval on the event schedule and budget.

Carol Wolf said that she liked the idea of having a regular date of the month for Hangout events.  Barry Drogin asked if the Events committee considered combining any events with the council meetings, like was done a few times this past year.  He indicated that he was referring to the meetings where an alumnus was invited in to make a major talk.   Mark said the committee had not considered Council meeting to fall within their mission.  He believes that the Executive committee does planning for Council meetings.  Margaret Matz said that she concurs with Barry Drogin that it is nice to have alumni speakers at council meetings and will explore that with the Executive committee.

Mark A. Vasquez made a motion for the Council to approve the Event Committee’s approach to planning and scheduling events.  A vote was taken amongst Council members and the motion passed.

Gano Dunn Committee Chair, Darrell Low EE’89, made an announcement that nominations are being accepted now for the Gano Dunn, Augustus Saint-Gauden’s, John Q. Hejduk, and Peter Cooper Public Service Awards.  The nomination deadline is November 3rd.   He also announced that the CU Wall Street affinity group will be having their annual fall networking event next Wednesday at the Copper Still.  You can register for that on-line on the school alumni site.

Mary Lynch announced that the next Council meeting will be on November 7, 2019.

Mark A. Vasquez made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Darrell Low seconded the motion.  The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 9 PM.

Minutes taken by Mary Lynch, CUAA Secretary