January 21, 2021 – Held via Zoom

Meeting started at 6:30 pm.

Approximately 30 alumni participated.

Margaret Matz introduced the guest speaker, Nicky Enright (BFA ’96), who is a multimedia artist, educator, DJ, and writer.

Nicky presented about his show entitled Sense Us 2020 that is on display at Hunter College. The show explores the race questions on the census and encourages people to create their own race “boxes” or definitions. Nicky researched the race questions in the census since the 1790s. He presented excerpts from his book that explores how the race questions on the census evolved over time. Nicky incorporated these ideas into an interactive exhibit where he walked around NYC and asked people to identify themselves and collected responses. Nicky went on to show images from the Sense Us 2020 exhibit, which is created using cardboard and black and white marker, similar to protest signs. A lot of the exhibit relates to “boxes” such as census boxes, Zoom boxes, ballot boxes, boxing in protestors, casket and hearse boxes, and incarceration boxes, and the exhibit was made from boxes using a box cutter.

Margaret Matz welcomed the Council and guests to the first meeting of the new year.

Brendan Fernes (Vice Chair of Annual Fund Committee) presented for the Annual Fund Committee. Brendan provided highlights from 2020, including the success of Giving Tuesday, and near 100% Council participation rate. The committee’s goals are to achieve as close to 100% alumni participation as possible, and to reach the $4M fiscal year goal.

An upcoming initiative is the 1859 campaign where people are asked to donate amounts that have the numbers 1859 in them (e.g., $18.59, $189.50). Another initiative is “A Penny for Your Thoughts” where people share their Cooper experiences along with donations. Brendan also mentioned a proposed fundraising competition between the alumni affinity groups. He summarized different giving options that include donating to particular projects within Cooper Union. Mark A. Vasquez asked who is leading the initiatives Brendan mentioned. Brendan responded that the 1859 campaign is something the alumni have done before, the Penny for Your Thoughts campaign is something the Annual Fund Committee is testing out. Margaret Matz mentioned that the OoAA and the various CUAA Committees are now collaborating to roll out campaigns.

Mark A. Vasquez requested that Annual Fund figures be regularly included in all Annual Fund Committee reports in a consistent format and in proper context so that the CUAA could more clearly understand the targets and trends.

Laura Spinner (Chair of Awards Committee) presented for the Awards Committee. Laura said the awards ceremony will be on Feb. 10 at 7pm, held on YouTube with a Q&A after it with the Founder’s Day Award winners. She also highlighted that nominations are open for next year’s awards and available on the CUAA website.

Barry Drogin presented on behalf of the Communications Committee (Bernie Codd, Chair of Communications Committee could not attend the meeting). Margaret Matz announced that Bernie Codd will continue as Chair of the Communications Committee for several more months. Barry stated that the January 2021 CUAA Newsletter was published. The next Newsletter will be March 2021, with submissions due Feb. 28. Barry emphasized that it is important to submit content by the deadline. He explained where Committee Chairs should upload content for the newsletter. The Communications Committee needs volunteers with graphic expertise to help with the newsletter. He noted that if CUAA wants something published in Cooper Union’s 5 Things, it should let the OoAA know a week in advance. Mary Lynch noted that CUAA e-mail blast requests need to be sent with one week notice. She also noted that anyone can post on the CUAA social media sites.

Barry Drogin presented on behalf of the Constitution Committee. The Committee has been meeting once per month working on the By-Laws. He explained the process used by the Committee to identify issues, propose draft language, approve the language within the Committee, create a red-line, and create a presentation for Council and Executive Committee.

Lynn Lander asked for a list of all Committee Memberships.

Margaret Matz spoke about reconstituting the ad hoc MOA committee. She said the committee and potential chairs will be addressed at the next Executive Committee meeting.

Margaret Matz noted that elections will be coming up soon, and preparations were under way. Mary Lynch highlighted that it is important for alumni to register and confirm that their contact information is up-to-date.

Mark A. Vasquez (Chair of Events Committee) presented on behalf of the Events Committee. Mark summarized that the Committee held two trivia nights. The Committee is hosting several events related to Cooper Together, including Talk and Toast, A Trip Through the Peter Cooper Archives and a potential Virtual 5K (which might be moved to the spring as well). The First Tuesdays March event will be to help alumni get reacquainted. The March Alumni Showcase will feature Larry Hausman (EE’94). April’s First Tuesdays will be a storytelling hour, and there will also be a virtual alumni excursion to Green-Wood Cemetery. May’s First Tuesdays may be a trivia/game night. Mark also spoke about improved efficiencies in promoting events.

Donato Giacalone (VP Faculty/Student Liaison) presented on behalf of the Faculty/Student Committee. He noted that students mostly complain about Zoom fatigue. In the Art School, teaching is fully on-line, and labs are by appointment only. The school applied for a technical grant. The school wants to start an archive for current student and alumni work. In the Architecture School, a virtual open house was conducted in the fall, the shop has limited hours, and major tools have been decommissioned. Most students are working from home. First Floor Corridor exhibits are scheduled into the spring 2021. In the Engineering School, three new faculty members have been hired, and four searches were put out for more faculty. The vast majority of courses are taught online, with some lab courses in-person. The Vertically Integrated Project (V.I.P.) courses are bring developed and will run through the years. The study abroad program has been suspended due to the pandemic.

Student reactions to the COVID situation include feelings of isolation, missing shop use, Zoom malaise, and missing interactions with students and teachers.

The Venice Masked project is progressing, the exhibition is scheduled for May 2021.

Overall, the schools have adapted to online learning, the buildings have COVID protocols in place, student counseling efforts continue, the AACE Lab is compete and in operation (and includes 3D computer model generating), and students are planning a possible in-person outdoor graduation.

Lynn Lander mentioned that spring break may be turned into five wellness days that are spread out throughout the semester. This is to discourage travel and COVID exposure during a traditional spring break.

Michelle Lederer (Chair of Membership Committee) stated she is just starting to think about the Membership Committee’s role and upcoming tasks. Mary Lynch highlighted that the role of the Membership Committee is to increase active alumni membership through an educational and outreach effort. The first step in this outreach is to identify how to communicate with the alumni. Lynn Lander suggested identifying class representatives to help with outreach. There was discussion regarding how to organize outreach and contact information. Barry Drogin spoke about lists of class reps and the project to track down “lost” alumni for whom there is no contact information.

Mary Lynch (Chair of Nominating Committee) reported on behalf of the Nominating Committee that the committee is in the process of notifying alumni who were nominated. The ballot will be revealed at the February Council meeting.

Lynn Lander moved to adjourn. Mark A. Vasquez seconded the motion. The meeting adjourned at 8:45pm.