Verdict on Working Group Proposal

Joseph T. Colonel (EE ‘15)

On January 11, a campus-notice email was sent announcing that the Board of Trustees reaffirmed its decision to start charging tuition to the incoming class of 2014. The email detailed the Board’s response to the “Working Group Report,” a document put together by staff, alumni, students, and faculty that proposed an alternative, non-tuition based financial model for the Cooper Union. The Working Group, comprised of about 18 members, was formed as a demand made by the protestors who occupied the President’s office last summer. The rejection of adopting the Working Group’s plan in lieu of tuition came after scrutiny from both the Board and the Huron Group, Cooper Union’s financial consultants. The Board suggested, however, that it may implement some of the cost cutting models created by the Working Group in tandem with a tuition based financial model.

While the Board “cannot reasonably project how or when we can restore this aspect of The Cooper Union’s legacy [the centurial precedent of awarding full tuition scholarships]”,“ it does suggest that “we will […] work together to develop a contemporary mission for the [Cooper Union].” Furthermore, the Board ensures that “our admissions process will continue to be based strictly on merit.” The Board states in no uncertain terms that “we must reaffirm our commitment to educating the working-class students for whom Peter Cooper founded the school in 1859.”

The rest of the campus-notice details the Board’s perspective on the economic situation facing prospective students of the Cooper Union, mentioning that “we need to provide additional aid to ensure that any deserving student can attend [the Cooper Union],” as well as outlining the creation of a board to clarify the mission of the Cooper Union for the 21st century. This board “will constitute a group of trustees to work with faculty, students, administration, staff, alumni and friends” and will concern itself with the issues of “sustaining merit-based admission, increasing accessibility for students from all backgrounds, and […] adding resources to the overall tuition scholarship.” According to the email, this committee “will be reaching out to the community in the coming months and will ensure that this process is inclusive and transparent.” ◊

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