I am committed to seeing the Cooper Union carry on Peter Cooper’s original gift in today’s world. I’ve served on the Board of Trustees (BoT) as President of the CUAA these past two years. For the two years prior to that, I was a member of the loyal opposition and was neither on the council or an officer. As a board member, I‘ve attended the Board’s regular meetings and its Development Committee meetings, and I’ve called consistently for the creation of a committee similar to the Working Group to update the mission of Peter Cooper in today’s world. Such a committee should include representatives from all parts of the community and would be sufficiently independent that it could not be sandbagged by administration members, as occurred with the Working Group.
The Cooper community is divided today, and until it is united, Cooper’s future is precarious. The current sustainability plan is based on revenue generation, fundraising and cost control. That model and its implementation must be very carefully monitored and modified if necessary in response to reality. Failure of oversight is a storied history at our alma mater. President Campbell promised a 10% reduction in costs that never materialized. Since the sale of Green Camp forty years ago, Cooper has repeatedly sold assets and failed to control costs. Most importantly, in my view, the BoT never notified the alumni and called them to arms over the prospect that Cooper’s paradigm of existence was in jeopardy. Alumni never had the opportunity to step up to the plate to aid and support Cooper prior to the paradigm change. Now we don’t know what we are being asked to support. What precisely is the vision? If elected as alumni trustee, I will represent the alumni in the BoT and continue to fulfill my role as a faithful steward of Peter Cooper’s legacy, just as I have up until now. I believe the proper vision will be found within the Cooper Community, as it has always been.
My name is John Leeper and I have worked in construction since 1968, in positions from laborer to skilled tradesman, foreman, superintendent and Construction Executive. I am currently the Director of Construction Management at Lettire Construction. I have worked on projects from single family houses to large scale complex urban projects, such as Time Warner Center, the National September 11 Memorial and the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse.
I graduated in 1980 from Wesleyan University with a BA in mathematics and a minor in studio art. After graduation, I attended the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies, where I interned under Peter Eisenman, its director. I built models for him. I attended Cooper from 1980-85, graduating with a B.Arch. I gave the speech at graduation and won the architecture leadership award. I’ve been an active member of the CUAA for many years, first as a council member, then as Secretary / Treasurer for six years, and most recently as CUAA President, where I’m completing the second year of a two-year term. These last four years have been very difficult for the CUAA, the last two in particular.