November 19, 2020 – Held via Zoom

Meeting started at 6:30pm.

31 alumni participated.

Margaret Matz (CUAA President) opened the meeting and welcomed old and new participants.

Margaret Matz introduced Melody Baglione and Neveen Shlayan, professors at the Engineering School.

Prof. Baglione introduced herself and Prof. Shlayan (who was not present, but provided content for the presentation). Prof. Baglione highlighted some of the successes in transitioning to remote learning, such as improved technology, mental health awareness, and coordinating with students across the US and the world.

Prof. Baglione described CU@Home kits, that provide hands-on experience to students at home. One of the kits in Prof. Baglione’s class related to Motor and Drone Control.

Prof. Baglione provided background for her course on Building Controls & Energy Efficiency, based on Cooper’s 41CS building as a “living laboratory.” Part of the class is changing controls in some rooms that are not being used and seeing how the rooms are affected. She addressed city requirements and opportunities for students to help improve energy efficiency of the building. Other projects include increasing air change rates and monitoring indoor air quality (which is very relevant for addressing COVID). Students also conducted thermal analyses of 41CS’s double-skin exterior façade. Prof. Baglione is co-teaching a course in energy-efficient building systems.

Prof. Baglione presented Prof. Shlayan’s slides addressing some of her projects, including the Sustainable Agriculture Project, Autonomy Lab, and a net-zero surrey. Previously, students would do an independent study on top of their regular course load. The new structure (called VIP) offers a course over the span of a few semesters, counts as one credit per semester, and allows continuity for students. These projects support long-term interaction between students and faculty, and allow for interdisciplinary collaboration and completion of large-scale projects. Current offerings include: Smart Cities, Motorsports, Solar Decathlon. Prof. Baglione also mentioned automated car programs made possible through support by Cooper grants and equipment donations. Prof. Baglione addressed next steps for the integrated classes.

At 7:20, alumni who are new to Council meetings introduced themselves. These alumni included Tim Mark and Vivian Poon, who are regional alumni leaders in Hong Kong, and Shannon Pultz, who is part of Art Club, and Beatriz Ponce, a Council member.

At 7:25 Anna Brook (CUAA Secretary) presented the October 15, 2020, Meeting Minutes. Edits were addressed and incorporated. The October 15, 2020, Meeting Minutes were approved by unanimous consent.

At 7:32 Ron Vogel (CUAA Treasurer) presented the 2020-2021 CUAA budget and responded to questions. Mark A. Vasquez requested that committee chairs participate in setting next year’s budget to have a say in the numbers. Ron Vogel agreed with the idea. Lynn Lander noted that Kelly Occhiuzzo Zack was involved in setting the budget last year. Hope Wade asked what happens to the money that is not used from the budget. Ron responded that much of the budget is allocated by the school and paid for by the school. Ron Vogel and Mary Lynch explained the technology line items in more detail.

A vote was held by general consent. There were two abstentions (Mark A. Vasquez and Hope Wade). The budget was approved by general consent.

At 7:48 Laura Spinner (Awards Committee Chair) presented for the Awards Committee. She provided an update on the nominations and deliberation process. The award recipients will be announced at the Dec. 8 virtual holiday party. The Awards ceremony will occur on Feb. 10 as part of the Cooper Together celebrations. Laura said the plans for the ceremony include a Q&A with the award winners. She again showed the new award design and mentioned cost savings.

At 7:52 Rob Marano (Annual Fund Committee Chair) and Brendan Fernes (Annual Fund Committee Vice-Chair) presented for the Annual Fund Committee. Rob presented alumni giving participation percentages. Overall annual fund is up (at $3.4M) due to many second gifts. Rob addressed giving options, including the annual fund, student scholarships, student groups, outreach programs, programming, and education. Rob also highlighted the Planned Giving webinar and strategies for donating to the school in estate planning or planned in other ways. There will be two major giving pushes from now until the end of the year. This includes Giving Tuesday ($600K) and to end of year.

One of the goals is 100% Council participation. Another goal is 100% alumni participation. Various fundraising efforts such as through Facebook were addressed.

At 8:20 Barry Drogin presented for the Communications Committee on behalf of Chair Bernie Codd. He presented the committee meeting schedule and the schedule for the Alumni Newsletter (the deadline for the January Newsletter is Dec. 30). He requested volunteers with graphic art expertise to help Susan Shaw. He also asked for content. Internally, the Communications Committee is transitioning to Zoom chat to decrease the volume of email chains. The CUAA also needs to migrate the website from Sean Cusack’s system. The Committee Chair has monthly meetings with the Office of Alumni Affairs & Development to coordinate emails and fundraising. He mentioned the proposal for hosting the CUAA and CU website on the same site that may solve the hosting issue.

At 8:25 Mark A. Vasquez (Events Committee Chair) presented an update on CUAA events. The committee is continuing the First Tuesdays, Alumni Showcases, and Alumni Excursions series that were begun in the previous CUAA year. The next First Tuesdays event will be a Trivia Night on Dec. 1 and will be open to students and alumni. Other upcoming events include themed storytelling hours about how specific professors / staff influenced alumni. Peter Cooper’s birthday celebration is on the schedule, the format will be determined at a later date. There is a night to catch up with old classmates in March, and a second trivia night in May. Alumni Showcases will be virtual for the foreseeable future. The Alumni Excursions are on hold, but some are in the works (including a virtual visit to Peter Cooper’s gravesite, and a virtual 5K with a fundraising option). The Committee is seeking improved collaboration with the Office of Alumni Affairs and the Board of Trustees. Mark mentioned better coordination between the Events and Communications Committees would be helpful. He will reach out to Bernie Codd after his meeting with the school.

At 8:37 Mary Lynch (Nominating Committee Chair) presented for the Nominating Committee. There were a lot of nominations. The committee had a first meeting yesterday. Nominees will be contacted starting in mid-December.

At 8:40 Margaret Matz provided an update on the MOA. Paul Nikulin, Nils Andersen, and Margaret Matz had a meeting with the school’s financial monitors. They confirmed that the CUAA can proceed with the MOA with Cooper Union regardless of the CUAA’s tax status. Margaret asked Nils if he is interested in chairing an MOA committee, but he has not responded, so she may visit him in person.

At 8:41 Barry Drogin presented for the Constitution Committee. The committee has met twice. The committee is concentrating on the By-Laws. The Committee decided internally that all text changes have to be approved unanimously by the Committee before they are presented to Council and the Executive Committee for their votes and approval. Barry also discussed the number of Alumni Trustees, which varies from 4 to 8 depending on the size of the Board of Trustees and that they serve on the Executive Committee. Nohar Barnea asked about the goals of the Constitution Committee and what portions were being revised. Barry Drogin addressed that there were grammatical issues when sections of the Constitution were moved into the By-Laws to the extent that the prior Constitution has to be consulted to ascertain the meaning of various passages.  The committee is looking at some other items in the By-Laws but there are no recommended changes yet.

At 8:59 the meeting was opened for new business / open floor. Yvette Francis proposed that the CUAA send a personal note to the older members of the alumni community (hand-written actual cards). Margaret said that Mary and Barry follow the alumni body closely and could address it in the Communications Committee. Mary agreed this is a good idea, but the CUAA will need to engage Anna Covatta at the alumni office to get addresses. Yvette will coordinate this effort.

Mark A. Vasquez moved to adjourn. Anna Brook seconded the motion. The meeting adjourned at 9:00pm.