Introducing Your New Student Trustee

By Brandon Quinere (CE’19)

The Pioneer had the chance to sit down and talk with newly-elected Student Trustee Julian Mayfield (Art ‘18) about his role and how students can become more politically involved at Cooper.

This is Simon's Pic_BWJulian Mayfield (Art ‘18) was elected Student Trustee in May, 2016. He serves on the Free Education Commitee of the Board. Photo by Yifei Simon Shao (ME ‘19).

What are your feelings about being elected as our new Student Trustee? 

Julian Mayfield: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and I feel pressured towards fulfilling my duties in a way that satisfies how I interpret the ethics behind this institution per the Consent Decree. There’s also expectations from people who encouraged me to run for the position, though their expectations are definitely not tempering any of my decision-making. But I definitely feel a desire to get to it and do the best that I can here.

[Editor’s note: The Consent Decree is an agreement worked out by New York’s Attorney General and signed by both the Board of Trustees and the Committee to Save Cooper Union (the litigators in the lawsuit over previous years). The Consent Decree outlines specific measures that the Board must enforce in order “to return Cooper Union to a sustainable, full-tuition scholarship model.”]

Are you excited to get started?

I really wanted to fully grasp the scope of my responsibilities to the beneficiaries of the Cooper community before I jumped in. Luckily, I had a small period of time where I basically got to shadow the Student Trustees at the time (Jessica Marshall (EE ’17) and Monica Abdallah (ChE ’17)) and observe their participation at the meetings. It was encouraging to be reminded that I too have the ability to be as active and forthright with my opinion. There’s a gap in expertise that I want to bridge immediately and it’s not something I’m going to learn overnight, but I definitely will do the best I can and really try to protect things in this institution that might be overlooked.

Did you feel a shift in going from a student vying for Trustee as to now, acting as one?

Not necessarily. In my relationship with students, I don’t think me acting as a Trustee is something a lot of students think about. With teachers and the other Trustees, there really isn’t too much of a shift either. The shift was in myself and discovering a greater appreciation for impartiality in my decision-making, as well as a need to avoid the politics of it all. There are politics, but that’s beside the point when it comes to something as big as keeping this whole situation afloat.

Now that you have been elected, have any students reached out to you in your new role? 

Yes, and I highly encourage more too! It hasn’t necessarily been people whom I’ve never talked to stopping me in the hallway, but people who I have previous rapport with have definitely felt comfortable coming in and trying to stay within the information flow. And I appreciate it, it’s important that we don’t feel alienated from the Board and can continue to stay informed.

For the new school year, what issues do you anticipate will be discussed between you and the Board?

Well I’m on the Free Education Committee and there’s definitely a lot more work being done there. With that comes a lot more contention and tougher decisions that will need to be made. If you’ve read the quarterly Board report that was released in June, you’ll know that there’s a lot that goes from declaring a commitment to actually perfecting these decisions and agreements. That’s definitely going to be a prime focus as soon as we get all of the methodologies set and our strategies finalized.

This is your introduction to a lot of the freshmen unfamiliar with you or your role. To those new students, how would you describe what you can do for them? 

It’s hard to really put that into words because the Trustee position isn’t necessarily something that can have immediate or direct impact into student lives. A lot of it is management of other people who are going to be committing actions. What I can do is talk to the new students if they need to stay informed and be made aware of resources that can help them become more politically involved in the institution. It’s the most we really can do at this point; to make sure that when things change, they aren’t changing in a way that will negatively impact the institution. And if it does turn towards that direction, then I have no interest in being part of decisions that will destroy the quality of current or future students’ experiences here.

Do you have any advice for students both new and old who want to become more involved in Cooper affairs?

It can be anything from getting involved in Student Council or forming an affinity group and just speaking out. E-mail campaigns, making posters, talking to your professors about these issues. They have a lot of opinions and have watched this cycle for a lot longer than us and will keep seeing it after we’re gone. They can offer a lot of real insight and have been some of the people who have kept me the most informed about political changes in this institution. Ultimately, make sure that every one of your friends are informed of events. Do whatever needs to be done so that you don’t go down without a fight. ◊

Letter to the First Years

By Pranav Joneja (ME ’18), Matthew Grattan (ChE ’19), Kavya Udupa (BSE ’19)

To the class of 2020/2021,

Welcome to Cooper!

Yes, we all come from different walks of life, study various disciplines, and have diverse interests. But, there is one thing we do share in common: this institution. It seems that for a short while our paths have converged.  It’s easy to take that for granted—Cooper is a school after all—and there is a certain amount of transience regarding those who pass through its doors.

This year is an opportunity for renewal: we will welcome a new president, search for new deans and administrators, and persist on the path to tuition-free education. Your presence and energy will help to shape this renewal. Amidst this, however, don’t forget the old.

The way Cooper is now is not the way it has always been. As a student here, you should feel an obligation to learn what has changed. Our institutional memory need not be wiped away every summer and in your time here, we hope that you join us in
remembering how we forgot. Time is linear, but our stories do not have to be.

At Cooper, it is easy to immerse yourself in your practice, but do not forget to spend some time elsewhere. You will learn that the community around you can foster a deep sense of collectivism.

“Create lasting habits, bring stories to share, ask a question and listen to each other.”

With love nonstop,

The Pioneer Editors


Cooper’s Sparkling New President

The first female president of The Cooper Union, Laura Sparks, has been elected unanimously by the Board of Trustees under the advisory of the Presidential Search Committee. Sparks will assume the role as Cooper Union’s 13th President on January 4th, 2017 at which time Acting President Bill Mea will return to his position as Vice President of Finance and Administration. Currently, Sparks is the Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation, a Philadelphia-based philanthropic organization that aims “to help improve education for low-income children, ensure a sustainable environment, [and] foster creative communities.” In an email addressing the Cooper community, Sparks wrote, “moving Cooper Union forward, while also holding true to its founding principles, is all of our jobs.”

New Safety Coordinators

Professors Alan Wolf and Ruben Savizky are now joint Campus-wide Faculty Safety Coordinators effective this academic year. The position, which has been held by Professor Wolf alone for the past 10 years, will be shared this school year as a transition period toward Professor Savizky assuming the entire role by Fall 2017. In addition to their roles as Safety Coordinators, Wolf chairs the Physics Department and Savizky is an Associate Professor of Chemistry.

JSC Drafts New Constitution

The Joint Student Council (JSC) is voting to ratify a new constitution on September 20. The current JSC constitution has not been revised since 1997. A committee of six students from all three schools, the Constitution Committee, spent the summer rewriting the document, paying special attention to procedures and effective governance. ◊

New Faces at Cooper

By Matthew Grattan (ChE ’19) and Toby Stein (CE ’18)

Over the summer, several new additions have been made to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Art, and the School of Engineering.  “I am very happy that Cooper Union is able to add ten new full-time faculty, a 20% increase, to its already excellent group of faculty. We are adding two in Architecture, three in Art, two in Engineering, and three in Humanities, with final hiring to be done for the two in Architecture and one in Humanities. The addition of new faculty, especially at such a level as we are doing now, is a sign of a vibrant institution. I thank our existing faculty for their hard work on the search committees and look forward to the ideas and energy that our new faculty will bring to Cooper Union.” commented Acting President Bill Mea in an email.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) has hired two new full-time members, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Diego Malquori, and Assistant Professor of Art History, Raffaele Bedarida. The two assistant professors are the first new full-time hires in at least 10 years for the HSS faculty. Professor Malquori previously taught in Barcelona, Spain and holds two doctorates, one in astronomy and one in philosophy. Professor Bedarida, a Ph.D. in art history, has taught at The Cooper Union for the past two years as an adjunct.

The HSS faculty was “very close” to hiring a third full-time professor in economics, according to Professor Buckley. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the position remains open. “We want to make sure we have people who are right for Cooper and who will come because they are really keen on teaching undergraduates,” explained Dean Germano.

Additionally, two Postdoctoral Fellows have been hired. Nabaparna Ghosh, a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University, holds a “scholarly interest in South Asia,” according to Dean Germano. Nada Ayad has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from University of Southern California and conducts research related to Egyptian women’s writing and topics related to nationalism.

The School of Art has hired three new faculty members, Leslie Hewitt, Lucy Raven, and William Villalongo, bringing the total number of full-time Art faculty to 10. The new professors each bring their own contemporary practice to Cooper Union. Leslie Hewitt, a Cooper Union graduate, is involved in research and photography, and her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, according to a campus-wide email. In one project, Lucy Raven has visited studios that turn 2-D films into 3-D films and related that process to rotoscoping (tracing over of film footage). William Villalongo studied at Cooper Union and has curated an exhibit at the Yale School of Art earlier this year called “Black Pulp!”—an examination of the portrayal of blacks in American media.

Mike Essl has become the Acting Dean of the School of Art, replacing Saskia Bos, who announced in March her plans to move to Europe after more than 10 years as the dean. “For me, if there are small moments I can change that make everyone’s life a little better, then I think that’s what the job is right now,” commented Essl on the new position. Acting Dean Essl, who graduated from The Cooper Union in 1996, may only hold the position for two years as stipulated in the union contract.

Also, Alexander Tochilovsky is the new proportional-time faculty member in the School of Art. “Not only does he do an amazing job as a professor here, he contributes to committees, helps with admissions, and has done a spectacular job in the Lubalin Center,” added Acting Dean Essl. Like Essl, Hewitt, and Villalongo, Tochilovsky is also a graduate of The Cooper Union.

The School of Engineering has two new full time faculty members, one in the Civil Engineering Department and one in the Electrical Engineering Department.

The newest Civil Engineering professor is no stranger to Cooper Union and the rigor that its professors provide. Dr. Neal Simon Kwong knows that it is no easy task to teach at Cooper Union, but he is ready for the challenge, having graduated after being taught by the same faculty a few years ago. Upon graduating in 2009, Professor Kwong departed New York, taking his talents to the west coast to begin his masters and Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Kwong brings a wealth of seismology knowledge to Cooper where he will be able to expand on his passion for understanding how structures perform when subjected to seismographic loads. Dr. Kwong will also be returning one of his hobbies: handball. He was an avid member of the handball team while at Cooper and Berkeley, but do not be afraid to challenge him to a match after class.

Neveen Shlayan comes to Cooper ready for a challenge as the newest addition to the Department of Electrical Engineering. Dr. Shlayan taught previously at SUNY Maritime College. In addition to her Ph.D. concentrating in cyber physical systems from the University of Nevada, she also holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and two master’s degrees, one in electrical engineering and the other in mathematics. Her master’s in mathematics focused on neutron density distributions. Before entering academia, Professor Shlayan worked at Philips Research concentrating on large-scale lighting control for transportation systems. In addition to what she brings to the classroom, Dr. Shlayan is also a published author and a developer of a patent while at Phillips Research. This semester Dr. Shlayan is teaching two classes for electrical engineering students, Electronics 2 and Circuit Analysis.

New staff can be found elsewhere at Cooper Union as well. Kit Nicholls has been appointed to the Director of the Cooper Union Writing Center after working with Cooper for the past decade. Nicholls has a Ph.D. in English from NYU but began his undergraduate education as an engineering student. Grace Kendall has been hired as the new Title IX Coordinator and Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion after working for 10 years at the Pratt Institute. Previously, Mitchell Lipton, Vice President of Enrollment Services and Dean of Admissions, held the position of Title IX Coordinator. ◊

Cooper Hops into Brewing

By Monica Abdallah (ChE ’17)

Cooper Brew Photograph

Students Jessica Marshall (EE ‘17) and Emily Adamo (Art ‘17) mix mash during the first brew session of the semester. Photo by Monica Abdallah (ChE ‘17).

Liquid courage. Barley pop. Suds. Brewski. A cold one.

I’m talking about beer.

It’s a multi-billion dollar per year industry in the U.S. alone; the drink itself dates back thousands of years. Today, it is the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage.

Most students at Cooper aren’t 21 yet, so they most definitely don’t know what beer tastes like or have any appreciation for this ancient drink. Nonetheless, Professor Sam Keene designed a new course on the subject of the science and art of brew. “Students have been asking me for years to either advise a brewing club, or offer a brewing class,” he says.

Professor Keene explains how electric brewing, a fairly new technology, could make brewing at Cooper safer and more feasible than ever. “The electric brewing method makes brewing indoors safe since no gas fired burners are involved, and allows for very precise control of temperatures via PID controllers.” Combining this method with a non-technical approach to brewing, Professor Keene proposed a new brewing elective that would involve students from all three schools. Dean Stock and Acting President Mea welcomed the initiative with support and excitement, allowing Cooper Brew to finally materialize after many past attempts. Professor Keene also credits the long overdue triumph to their receptiveness to ideas originating from students and faculty.

The brew class raised all necessary funds with the help of the Development Office and generous donations from excited alumni, many of whom have never donated before. “I am really hoping this program can help draw back some people who have grown disillusioned with Cooper recently,” says Keene. The class will not cost Cooper Union any money, and all of the beer produced will be donated back to the school for use at events. These are just a few small cost saving measures that show Professor Keene’s dedication to the community’s intention of honoring Peter Cooper’s vision. “I think it is important that everything we do at Cooper keeps in mind the goal of returning to free.”

What is so special about this brewing course is that it is designed to be an interdisciplinary experience. “What I hope we all get out of it is an appreciation for how engineering, art and architecture students can collaborate and produce something really great,” Professor Keene shares. “This kind of collaboration was something I had always hoped could happen when I came to Cooper. It is something that was nearly impossible in the past few years, and I’m thrilled this is happening now.”

With students from the three schools present, Professor Keene hopes to really delve into the questions that craft breweries answer every day. What pH level should we mash at? What temperature should we ferment at? How does that affect the overall final qualities of the beer, like how it looks, smells and tastes? He also hopes to find a way to use Cooper Brew as a method of advancing the mission of the school. “It seems obvious that we should have artists and architects in the same room with scientists and engineers.” ◊

Senator Sanders Speaks at Great Hall

By Gabriela Godlewski (CE’19) and Michael Pasternak (ME ’17)


Senator Bernie Sanders delivering a speech in The Great Hall for the Working Families Party 18th Annual Gala on September 15. Photo by Michael Lange (ChE ‘19).

“Bernie Sanders is going to be at the Great Hall tonight.”

One word-of-mouth tip led several Cooper students—writers for The Pioneer included—to join the crowd gathered in The Great Hall. Though the student body was aware of an event taking place there the night of September 15, very few were aware of who was coming. Those who found out and got in witnessed many left-leaning politicians address the members of the Working Families Party. The speakers included Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, and the event’s keynote speaker, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mayor de Blasio spoke to a supportive audience on the progress made through his Universal Pre-K program and raising the city’s minimum wage. Senator Schumer expressed optimism at gaining a Democratic majority in Washington, while Nina Turner spoke fervently on socioeconomic inequalities still present in the United States. She asked the crowd: “Can I get an amen!?”

At long last, Senator Bernie Sanders was introduced to the enthusiastic crowd. “50 years ago public education may not have meant college, but things have changed!  Public education should mean free public college!… Why would we punish those trying to be educated and compete in the world economy?” said Sanders, rousing a chant from the Cooper students in the crowd. “Free Cooper. Free Cooper! FREE COOPER!”

Of course, the Cooper students knew the significance of what Sanders said in the Great Hall of Cooper Union, the very institution founded on the principle of education “as free as air and water.” The Great Hall has historically hosted numerous talented speakers and political movements, including Abraham Lincoln, the NAACP, and the women’s suffrage movement. Those who did not know of Peter Cooper or the history of the school listened to how a well fed, housed, and educated populace is necessary to “fully enjoy liberty.” The symbolism may have been lost on them, but it was not lost on Cooper’s contingent, who, after Sanders spoke, was able to meet both him and Mayor Bill DeBlasio backstage.

The event itself was led by the Working Families Party (WFP), a progressive labor-focused group which led the fight for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave in New York. They appeared in the public eye with their endorsements of Bernie Sanders and Bill de Blasio and their involvement with the protests against Verizon. This Gala marks WFP’s most successful few years to date, with more members of their party in office than ever before. ◊