Category Archives: Reprint

From the Archives: CU Inaugurates New President

Faculty members protesting in front of the Foundation Building, while President Lacy’s inauguration continues in The Great Hall.
Faculty members protesting in front of the Foundation Building, while President Lacy’s inauguration continues in The Great Hall.

by John Mirabello

Editor’s Note: This article was originally featured in Volume 60 Issue 3 printed on October 28, 1980. It references a dispute between the faculty union (CUFCT) and Cooper Union’s administration. The core of the dispute was over the Yeshiva decision: The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-4 that the faculty members at Yeshiva University are “managerial employees” and are excluded from protection under the National Labor Relations Act. Under President Lacy, the administration attempted to invoke the Yeshiva decision to remove protections and benefits for faculty.

A gala day of ceremony and celebration marked the official inauguration of Bill N. Lacy as the ninth President of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Lacy assumed the position last semester, succeeding the retired John White.

A special convocation ceremony, whose theme was “The Advancement of Science and Art,” began 10 a.m. in The Great Hall. Classes were cancelled to afford students the opportunity to hear H. Guyford Stevers, director of TRW, Inc. and former Director of the National Science Foundation, discuss the state of the art in the field of engineering. Two additional speakers, Robert Motherwell and Philip Johnson, withdrew as a result of the dispute between the Cooper Union Federation of College Teachers (CUFCT) and The Cooper Union. Instead, the audience was treated to a showing of films of Charles Eames.

In his introduction, President Lacy commented, “I can think of no other person in the twentieth century who so ideally embodies the essence of Cooper Union’s three schools.” Eames, a close friend of Lacy, was also an inventor, architect, engineer, artist, and master of communication.

The installation ceremony took place at 3 p.m. in The Great Hall. Delegates from colleges, universities, learned societies, and museums joined the students, faculty, and alumni representatives in the academic procession, led by mace bearer Richard S. Bowman, Chairman of the Department of Humanities and a professor of The Cooper Union for 41 years. The ceremony was slightly marred by the absence of featured speaker Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was persuaded to cancel his scheduled appearance due to the Union’s dispute. The Cooper Union mace, symbol of power and authority, was transferred to President Lacy by Clarence F. Michalis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who included in his remarks the following: “I believe that Bill Lacy’s presidency is going to make a lasting impression upon the future of Cooper Union.”

In his acceptance speech, President Lacy cited the inseparably unique qualities of the institution and its founder, Peter Cooper: no other private institution exists where the founder’s life and values represent such a current aspirational model for students, faculty, and administration. Lacy commented on the CUFCT’s balloon-decked demonstration, citing their well-made placards as further examples of Cooper Union’s commitment to excellence. Lacy announced his intentions to establish The Cooper Union as a viable, useful member of the local neighborhood, in addition to expanding its educational facilities. He cited a number of possible goals to be achieved through the joint effort of the Cooper community during his administration:

  • maintaining a tuition-free education for all full-time students, as well as a financially sound Cooper Union,
  • insuring the strength of the three schools’ curriculum and faculty,
  • developing the humanities to insure excellence in order to complete the education of the professional,
  • seeking ways to make current and to better use Cooper Union’s unique facilities, including The Great Hall, Houghton Gallery, the Center for Design and Typography, and the Engineering Research Labs,
  • construction of an outdoor exhibit center on the present parking lot site west from the Foundation Building,
  • building a two-storey glass-enclosed student union atop the Hewitt Building.

The day’s celebration culminated with a special edition of the Cooper Union Forum series—featuring Lukas Foss and members of the Brooklyn Chorale and the Brooklyn Philharmonia. ◊

Old Dorms. Photo by Winter Leng (ChE '18)

The (Old) New Dorms: A Preview

By Tanya Dragan

The following article is reprinted from an issue of The Pioneer published on April 29, 1992.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 15 [1992], a group of more than 50 current and prospective students as well as a handful of parents and administrators, embarked on an extensive tour of the new dorms (or “residence hall,” as the administration is quick to remind us.) In small groups, the curiosity-seekers ascended to the roof in the “passenger hoist” (the construction workers’ name for the outside elevator), and trickled through the floors, examining the as-yet unfinished apartments. Devoid of kitchens, bathrooms and doors, not to mention furniture, the apartments were not quite the finished product, but gave everyone a clear indication of what will be.

Most floors consist of four apartments—two 4-person apartments, with two double bedrooms; a 3-person apartment with one double and one single bedroom; and a 5-person apartment, with one single and two double bedrooms. The third floor has three “loft-style” apartments. These lofts are to house four, five and six people. These apartments are one large room, without any divisions, which will enable living there to let their imaginations run wild (to a point), and utilize the space in any way they desire. The six-person loft, which faces 9th Street, seems spacious, even around the piles of sheetrock which were stacked in the middle. The four- and five-person lofts, while interesting in that they are split level, with only a half-wall separating the two levels, are ensaddled with a “panoramic” view of the roof next door.

Each apartment has a kitchenette, consisting of a sink, gas burners (no oven), microwave oven (for the frozen food gourmet), and a half-sized refrigerator (for the new “family” of five or six, this may be a rather tight squeeze). Other tight squeezes may be the bathrooms—many of which have only stand-up shower (as opposed to a full bath), and the lack of closet— only 5-person apartments have any. All other apartments will have to do with “clothing storage units.” All in all, the apartments are not overly spacious, and bring to mind a saying an Australian friend of mine had: “Not even big enough to swing a cat round by its tail.”

The dorms will not be without any amenities, however. The dorm will house two common rooms: a large one, “designed for student activity,” as the brochure describes it, which overlooks, and during warm weather will no doubt overflow onto, the fourth floor terrace, and a smaller television room on the fifth floor.Each apartment will also eventually be linked to a central computer.

 “Each apartment will also eventually be linked to a central computer.”

Another big plus (especially for nature buffs) which will be enjoyed by the whole area, and not just dorm residents, is a small “viewing park” which will occupy the area enclosed by 3rd Avenue, 9th Street, and Stuyvesant Street. The Cooper community had initially wanted to close off Stuyvesant Street in this area, extending the park to the doorstep of the dorms. This would have enabled the restaurants to extend outdoors in nice weather, and give the dorms a feeling of a “lawn.” Community opposition, however, citing the threat of homeless squatters, city bureaucracy, and the expense waylaid these plans. The cost of the smaller park will be upwards of $400,000! (Anyone willing to start a fund?) This park will be important—both in improving the area aesthetically, and continuing the environmentally-conscious theme of the dorms. Many students think it’s a great idea, long overdue.

Several apartments in the dorm will not be for housing students. One of these, by far the most popular with the tour, is the duplex for visiting scholar(s). Although it has a rather narrow staircase, the two floors and nice view were admired by all. Closely following the duplex in popularity is the resident manager’s apartment which overlooks, and will most probably have access to, the small terrace on the west side (3rd Avenue side) of the building. The resident advisors (RA’s), however, will not live in such luxury. Contrary to popular belief, they will not be living alone in an apartment: rather, they will have their own room in apartment. They will, however, be living rent-free—in exchange for the responsibilities and time they will need to put into their job.

“The dorms will cost each student $480 a month”

The cost of the dorms, with respect to their size, was a major topic of discussion during the tour, as it has been since the cost of rent was first announced.The dorms will cost each student $480 a month, regardless of where he or she will live. Many students are of the opinion that a $2,000 a month apartment, which is essentially what  a four-person dorm will cost, is rather expensive, especially as utilities are not included in this cost. (Each apartment will be billed separately for its own utility use). If the apartments were bigger, many claim the cost would be worth it, especially as it’s possible to get a comparably-sized apartment in the area for less. Conversely, the cost includes the convenience of the location, the fact that the building is new, and security. The consensus most often reached was that the dorms will primarily house underclassmen coming from afar, and that once they become familiar with and assimilated to, the area and life in New York City, they will venture out on their own, in search of better bargains. Either argument is valid today: price and size vs. proximity and security; the answer will have to wait until the dorms are lived in and experienced. Perhaps even then, the answer will not be concrete. So, for now, bring on the “dorm-ites” and let’s see! ◊