Tag Archives: 9-14-2015

Volume 95 Issue 1

By Ruchi Patel (ChE ’18) 

This is an advice column and people are supposed to ask me questions to which I offer questionable advice. But I don’t have any questions because this is the first issue of the year! To ask questions, please reach out to me at pioneer@cooper.edu with the subject line “Asking Ruchi.”

Meanwhile, I’ll offer some thoughts without your asking.

If you are a freshman:

Please don’t follow me around. I’m just trying to have lunch in a public space. Really, I can’t help you with your EID 101 troubles. And I definitely can’t relate to them. Why do you need help with EID 101? Stop. Oh my god, stop!

By the way, what are those?

If you are a sophomore:

Why are you complaining about homework? You’re the first and maybe last class to pay tuition. You got betrayed by this school. Don’t do homework if you don’t want to. Don’t even go to class. No one has the right to demand anything from you. Honestly, you’re paying some good bucks, so spend your time here focusing on you. Be a better person. Volunteer in nursing homes. Read poetry for your soul. Don’t give into the scam of a discounted education!

If you are a junior:

I get it. You guys are doing grown-up things like “internships.” Whatever. I’m still never going to forget that time you hit someone with a chair for a pack of Sour Patch Kids. Or when you wrote fanfiction supplemented with anime drawings and posted them on a blog called “Engineering Is My Passion.” Yeah, alright. Grown-ups.

If you are a senior:

OH MY GOD. I’LL MISS YOU SO MUCH! The Cooper Union is nothing without you. Okay, great talking to you! Bye, now. BYE!

Dean Stock - Photo Credit Winter Leng ChE'18

Interview with Acting Dean Stock

By Pranav Joneja (ME ’18) and Krishna Thiyagarajan 

Dean Stock - Photo Credit Winter Leng ChE'18

TCP: How were you asked to be Dean? Who specifically asked you to take the position?

RS: In May of last year, I was meeting with Bill Mea and Peter Buckley on a number of issues, including faculty union business. Bill Mea asked me if I would consider taking over as Acting Dean if the situation were to arise. We had a long discussion and at the end, I decided that if asked, I would consider it. But I would not apply or seek it out. If the job came along and I took it, I would step down from the leadership of the union and the chairmanship of chemical engineering. It would otherwise be nonsense to hold both titles: Acting Dean and President of the Faculty Union. That would be a conflict of interest. In early August, Bill Mea asked me and I agreed. About a week later, announcements were made to set the start date as August 10.

TCP: So what was happening from May until August?

RS: People had asked me before but no one was certain exactly how things were going to pan out. Jamshed Bharucha and Teresa Dahlberg left at the end of June, and after that, Bill Mea was just getting his ducks in a row though July. One of the actions Bill took, which in my opinion speaks to his understanding of transparency, was that he spoke to the faculty and staff, both in the engineering school and at other schools, asking for their ideas about who could be Acting Dean. He did a lot of legwork before he made his decision. It was a long, but straightforward process.

TCP: What is happening to your position as the President of the faculty union (Cooper Union Federation of College Teachers, CUFCT) and your position as Chairman of Chemical Engineering?

RS: Peter Buckley was the Vice President of CUFCT, so he’s now stepping into the presidency of CUFCT. At the end of last year, I had one more term of my chairman position, so Irv Brazinsky is going to step in and finish my term. The chemical engineering department is pretty lean at the moment because Professor Daniel Lepek is on sabbatical. In that regard, having Brazinsky chair the department is the most pragmatic thing to do, as he has so much experience.

TCP: How have things been for you so far in your position as Dean of Engineering?

RS: Thankfully, I’m still teaching one course every semester. Right now, it’s Senior Chemical Engineering Design, which is a fun course to teach. So far, I would say being Dean is a torrent of emails. (During the hour-long interview, the writers counted at least two dozen audible email notifications from Dean Stock’s computer). It seems that everybody wants to keep me in the loop, so I get all the emails. There are a lot of things that I still need to learn. I’m not rushing at it. I’d much rather be able to understand it and do it right, than mess it up.

There is a lot of technology and databases, such as WebAdvisor, that I now have elevated access to, but I really haven’t had time to play with it. My view of administration is that, while it’s important to ensure the bureaucratic system is operating correctly, it’s so much more critical to interact with people. I’ll eventually get up to speed with technology.

You know, it’s funny: since I was conferred the position, virtually everybody has been saying to me “Congratulations! …Or should I say condolences?” And I tell them, I don’t have an answer…yet.

More seriously though, both Bill Mea and I have the word “Acting” in our titles. In other words, we find ourselves in a situation where the previous people in these positions are gone and we’re in a bit of a mess. What this really means, to a certain extent, is that I’ve been presented with a shovel and people are looking to me and saying, “Okay, dig us out (of this mess)!” That’s really what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to establish a period of stability in the Engineering school and I want to refocus everybody on just excellence in engineering education. I want to achieve that and improve it more in the future.

Right now, I don’t want to get into the discussion of whether Cooper should or should not charge tuition. Down the road that’s going to be sorted out and mechanisms are being put in place to do that.  But one of the best things that we can do as an engineering school, regardless of whether we charge or don’t charge, is to do as well of a job as we possibly can.

As a school, I think that we have been confused about our governance and how we operate. Frankly speaking, I think that confusion has been fostered deliberately in the past and I want to get that clarified. I want to clarify how the committees work, who they answer to, and determine their composition, whether they involve administrators, faculty and/or students. Above all, we’re doing it in a way that is transparent. For example, we’re making sure meetings are documented, where it is appropriate, and that people know about them.

TCP: What about closed votes? (Closed or anonymous votes are a situation where individual votes are not recorded.

RS: In the past, closed votes arose in situations in which there is perhaps some controversy, like the curriculum or faculty tenure committees. My understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order is that if a staff member sets a closed vote in motion, there is no discussion. You just vote as to whether you will have a closed vote, and then simply have a closed vote.

TCP: What tasks do you find most difficult as Dean?

RS: I was surprised at the number of deep individual issues that sometimes occur in a student’s life. Until now, I wasn’t entirely aware of the ways in which Cooper Union as an institution can and does provide support, for example through people in student support roles, like Chris Chamberlin. We need to rally around and make the situation supportive, perhaps by proposing a year off, or with advice to do this or that, because these issues can be deeply challenging to the student.

I find the depth of discussion among the administration and faculty very surprising. It’s all guided by the question “What’s the best thing that we could do for that student?” Even in the turmoil that has gone on over the last few years, everybody has worked hard to make sure that the education is still good, and that students are supported throughout their time here. That is one of the key, enduring aspects of Cooper Union. Everyone wants the students who come here to succeed in this environment. Sometimes that’s difficult, but I love the way people rally around to make it happen.

TCP: This seems to tie into the Academic Standards Committee (ASC). Do you still serve on that?

RS: No. Before the fall of 2014, Brazinsky was on the curriculum committee and I was on the ASC. We swapped for purely political reasons. The chairmanship of the curriculum committee is rotated among the different departments, and at this time, it was about to be transferred to the chemical engineering department. At the time, Brazinsky was not as aware of the issues that were going on in the school as I was, so we decided to swap. That means Brazinsky was on the ASC last year, while I was appointed chair of the curriculum committee.

Among the reasons for the swap was the fact that we knew difficult discussions were coming down the line in the curriculum committee. Certainly in the fall semester, there were some contentious meetings I presided over. And then later, there were even more contentious meetings in the Academic Standards Committee.

“Acting Dean Stock did not explicitly state what happened during these ‘contentious meetings.’ For added clarity, the editors elaborate on this reference to the proposed curriculum for the Computer Science Program in another article in this issue.”

TCP: In many students’ minds, the Academic Standards Committee decides who stays at school and who leaves school. Does the role of the ASC exist outside of that realm? What else do it do?

RS: If you want to find a committee that works really well at The Cooper Union, it’s the Academic Standards Committee. Professor Vito Guido, who has been the chair for a very long time now, runs a very tight ship. He keeps us on point. Typically, we don’t know which students are coming up to the ASC until very shortly before the meeting. The actual content of the meetings are, again, really deep discussions as to what is the right thing to do for a particular student. Sometimes, it’s fairly straightforward. Other times, it’s much more difficult. It frequently involves all sorts of things that happened outside the academic sphere.

Occasionally, there will be a request for us to consider something. ASC, for example, has to sign off on everyone who is graduating. Occasionally, we get a senior who is finishing up in the fall semester. We might conduct an online discussion and vote on whether the person graduates or not.

TCP: What is happening with the search for the future dean?

RS: At the moment, there isn’t one. The Board of Trustees is gearing up and working out the details of how it wants to do the presidential search. The concept is that it would be better to appoint a new president, and then, after the proper search and appointment, give the new president the opportunity to run his or her own search for the dean. Assuming the presidential search goes well, I will be in this position for two years.

TCP: Is there any chance that Acting President Mea might stay as the permanent president?

RS: As far as I know, there is nothing to preclude him from putting his name in the hat to be considered. However, I’m not sure whether he’s thinking along those lines. We haven’t had that discussion.

President Mea has been at Cooper Union for only a year. He’s looking into the future, but he’s cautiously taking it a day at a time. So, nothing can be concluded at this time.

TCP: Please comment on the recent legal settlement reached between the Board of Trustees and the Committee to Save Cooper Union.

RS: In my opinion, it is a very good thing. If you read the document published by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), it is making Cooper Union do things and I don’t see any of that as bad for Cooper Union.

The representation of different constituencies on the Board: though some of them are non-voting, at least it opens up communication that has not been open before. The faculty members, for example, are observers and they’re essentially there to talk if they’re asked. Still, they can at least report non-confidential information back to their constituencies.

Whenever I’ve had a conversation with the member of the Board in the past, it was always the case that I was telling them something that they didn’t know. I have observed that one of the central reasons has been misinformation, or even no information, getting to the Board. I think opening up those pathways of communications with the board is valuable. I think the fixing the governance issue is valuable. I think the financial focus is very valuable.

I’m convinced we can operate within our means. We should maintain a student population of 950. Our aim is to do those things as an undergraduate school better than anyone else does. I think we can do it within our means.

Having third party oversight prescribed by the Attorney General in the form of the Financial Monitor is a valuable thing. We have demonstrated in the past that we need guidance. That may make some people uncomfortable, but the record states that quite clearly.

No one wants heads to roll; no one is going to go to jail over this. Still, the fact that a group of people was courageous enough to bring the lawsuit is highly appreciable. The fact that this piqued the state’s attorney general was essential as well. The involvement of his office has been immensely valuable.

I will go on the record to state the first time I was phoned by the office of the AG was in September of last year. The attorney general had enough circumstantial evidence from his investigation, without doing any depositions or subpoenas. If he had gone through depositions, information damaging to the Cooper Union’s reputation would have been released. We are fortunate that this step was not necessary.

Following the AG’s release of the documents on September 2, people began asking me, “Where are we now?” And to that I reply, “Imagine you’re in a swamp and you’re up to your hips in some muddy, slimy, stinky water. You’re surrounded by mist and you have no idea which direction to go in.  The mist lifts and in the distance you see hard ground. Now, you know where you’ve got to go. In order to get there, you still have to wade through all the grime. There are still a lot of things that we have to do. Most of it is not going to be hard for us compared to the previous years, because we can see the hard ground. There are still financial issues that we have to solve. And governance issues that we have to solve. It’s especially important to get governance right in an academic setting. We are nearing a solution, but we still have to do work to achieve it.

TCP: What role did the faculty union play in the Attorney General’s investigation?

RS: We worked very hard to keep the faculty union out of it. If the union got involved, we would taint the lawsuit from the point of view of the petitioners. Additionally, we would have damaged the union.

Besides, the issues they were bringing up in the lawsuit were not primarily issues of labor. Simply put, it wasn’t the union’s business.

 

CSCU, Board of Trustees Settle Litigation, Sign Consent Decree

By Pranav Joneja (ME ’18)

On September 2, 2015, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed papers at the Supreme Court of the State of New York announcing that the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU) have reached a legal settlement. The litigation, originally levied in May 2014 by five petitioners “sought an injunction against charging tuition.”

The five petitioners are: Adrian Jovanovic, an alumnus of the engineering school; Mike Essl, a faculty member of the school of art; Toby Cumberbatch, a faculty member of the school of engineering; Claire Kleinman, a current student in the art school; and Isabella Pezzulo, an accepted student who “had to decline her spot because of the decision to charge tuition.”

The respondents include Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees at the time. Among them are Jamshed Bharucha, former President of The Cooper Union, and five other Trustees who resigned from their roles before the lawsuit was: Mark Epstein, former Chairman of the BoT; Francois de Menil; Catharine Hill; Monica Vachher and Daniel Libeskind.

Documents published by the Attorney General’s office provide a comprehensive investigation of financial mismanagement, a detailed account of inadequate oversight, and a categorical record of failures to do contingency planning.

The Pioneer has summarized the Attorney General’s findings:

1. In 1998, Cooper Union negotiated a deal to lease the land under the Chrysler Building to Tishman Speyer. The deal includes a provision to “reset the rent in 2018 based on an [updated] valuation of the property;

2. President Campbell’s administration took the decision to take on a $175 million loan in 2006, secured by a mortgage on the Chrysler property. The loan was intended to finance the construction of the New Academic Building, provide liquidity to Cooper Union’s investment pool, and other immediate expenses. While making the decision, there is no evidence that the Board took into account conflicts of interest, the real feasibility of implementing cost-cutting measures, or the significant disadvantages of the loan deal offered by MetLife. These include budgetary constraints of spending one-fifth of Cooper’s annual budget for the annual debt service payments of $10-15 million.

3. President Campbell and Mark Epstein “misinformed the community, [despite having] sufficient information to know the truth of the school’s increasingly dire [financial] situation.”

4. Though the financial crisis was acknowledged upon President Bharucha’s arrival, the problems persisted. The root causes were his administration’s reliance “on unsupported assumptions” for budgeting, “over-centralization of management and the failure to communicate with non-administrative constituencies.” Moreover, in conjunction with the BoT, he announced the decision to charge tuition in 2013.

5. In response, “students began an occupation of President Bharucha’s office to protest the decision to impose tuition.” “The occupation ended when President Bharucha and the Board agreed to the formation of a ‘Working Group’ that would be charged with exploring alternatives to tuition.” “The Working Group was deprived of the time and resources to offer comprehensive, responsible alternatives tuition.” Moreover, Former Engineering Dean Teresa Dahlberg led in the publication of a “minority report in response to the Working Group”, which “served to alienate the wider community from the administration.” Ironically, “while deeming the Working Group’s [proposals] to be unreliable, the Board failed to subject President Bharucha’s proposals, including the Financial Stability Plan, to rigorous analysis.”

Following the investigative findings, the attorney general made use of his right to intervene pursuant to the laws of the State of New York to ensure the proper administration of “Peter Cooper’s irreplaceable gift to the people of New York.” In fulfilling his duty as parens patriae (legal protector of citizens unable to protect themselves), the attorney general prescribed a Consent Decree, a document outlining changes to be made to the bylaws and operations of The Cooper Union’s administration.

The provisions in the Consent Decree were summarized by the Committee to Save Cooper Union.

1. Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees, together with the community, will work to return Cooper Union to a high-quality, sustainable, tuition-free model as soon as practical. A special committee of the Board will be dedicated to development of a strategic plan to return the school to its traditional tuition-free policy;

 

2. Alignment of the trust and charter of the school, through the cy pres petition, to reflect the evolution of the institution into its modern form and provide for judicial oversight of the effort to return to a full tuition scholarship model;

3. Expansion of the Board to include student trustees (2), additional alumni trustees (2), and faculty and staff representatives (6);

4. Establishment of the Council of the Associates of Cooper Union—comprised of the alumni, student, and faculty trustees—with the charge to develop a full plan and proposal for The Associates of Cooper Union;

5. Appointment of an independent financial monitor who will be responsible for evaluating and reporting on the financial management of Cooper Union, including compliance with the Consent Decree;

6. Transparent disclosure of Board materials, budget documents, and investment results;

7. Formation of a board committee to further reform the school’s governance; and

8. An inclusive search committee to identify the next full-term president.

Cooper takes on: The World.

By Monica Chen (CE ’18) and Robert Godkin (ChE ’18)

Iceland - Photo Credit Monica Chen (CE'18)(2)

 

Picture above: Summer Abroad in Iceland 

Every year, students take advantage of opportunities at Cooper to study abroad, and partake in research with international universities. This past spring and summer, Cooper Union students traveled all over the globe to study in Germany, Iceland, India, and Spain. Summer abroad programs in Germany, Iceland, and Spain allow students to earn up to six credits of independent study, while the semester abroad option in India offers a full semester’s course load.

Cooper’s partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology campus in Bombay has seen many students take courses in India over an entire semester. This past spring, Jean-Dominique Bonnet (CE ‘16) traveled and studied in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. With Professor Kannan Moudgalya in the Chemical Engineering department, Jean contributed to the government sponsored Spoken Tutorial Project by teaching computer skills, recording audio clips, and translating scripts for Spanish or English videos; he wrote code in C and C++ for their professional development.

“The bustling cities can be chaotic to people who have never strayed from tour groups before, but they also offer a world you would never get close to touching from this side of the globe,” said Bonnet. “The most interesting thing I did was learn to travel and backpack around cities by myself, which of course provided its own adventures.”  Bonnet described his travels in great detail, and highly recommended that future students take the opportunity to travel and study in such a richly cultured country.

Sohan Mone (CE ‘16), John DiBattista (CE ‘16), Peter Wang (CE ‘16), and Lee Lopez (ME ‘16) worked on several projects in their time in Spain. When asked why he chose to go to Spain, Mone said “It was a last-minute decision. A week before the application deadline, I realized that once you start working in industry, you really don’t get months off where you can travel and experience a new culture.” DiBattista and Mone worked on a research paper concerning the status of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in the United States. “We looked at everything from the impact of PEVs on America’s energy grid to public charging infrastructure, as well as incentives and barriers to adoption,” said Mone.

Spain - Photo Credit Sohan Mone (CE'16)(2)

Pictured above: Summer Abroad in Spain 

Wang and Lopez worked on nanotubes in a chemistry lab. “We worked with our supervisor and a PhD student to better disperse the nanotubes in solvents and composites and to improve the composites’ mechanical properties,” said Wang. “The cultural experience was amazing and more than I could have wished for. Spain’s culture is so diverse, and each of its seventeen autonomous communities is like a different country in its culture,” said Wang, who came for the research but stayed for the liveliness of the city.

Yeeho Song (ME ‘17) traveled to Germany this past summer to work on a hands-on approach to 3D heat transfer coefficients in a chemical reactor. Driven by his interest and curiosity in German engineering, Song used this opportunity to learn and understand the mechanisms and processes behind German engineering. In addition, Song was also inspired by Germany’s economic boom following the nation’s reunification. “Coming from a divided nation, I was curious about the causes of Germany’s unique history, as well as the effects within the field of engineering,” stated Song.

Despite his long hours in the process engineering lab, Song also took the opportunity to explore the culture and traditions in Germany. “My experience in Germany boosted my understanding about the political situation in Europe, historical events, and major scientific and engineering advances in Europe, especially regarding how they occurred and why they occurred in such a way,” added Song.

Finally, Cooper’s summer abroad program in Iceland, led by Professor Robert Dell, allowed students to study geothermal engineering. This past summer, eight students traveled to Iceland to study sustainable methods of reusing waste geothermal water and steam to generate electricity with a thermoelectric generator, and to use these methods to improve outdoor agricultural production with heated gardens. Students collaborated with mentors from the Agricultural University of Iceland and Keiler Institute of Technology to attribute to Professor Dell’s research with geothermal heated gardens to increase agricultural yield due to Iceland’s frigid climate and inadequate farming conditions.

The students spent the first month in Hveragerdi, a small town in Southern Iceland known for its abundance of hot springs and natural geysers, and the second month in Reyjkavik, Iceland’s capital. When asked about cultural differences in Iceland, Romaniya Voloshchuk (ME ‘17) commented, “I found it inspiring that a lot of people went outside in the rain to do community service by tending to trees and flowers growing on the sides of the roads. I also noticed that the generally unpredictable weather meant that people in Iceland are more adaptable than we are to sudden changes in the weather—they work outside in the rain, fix their cars at midnight when it’s perfectly light outside, dress their kids in bright buffs and generally never complain about the weather.” There’s quite a contrast between our lifestyles to those of native Icelanders, but that should only be a reason to motivate more students to meet the people, experience culture, and explore sites that Iceland has to offer.

Stella Blue Porgunzulo - Photo Credit Monica Abdallah ChE'17

Summer experiences: Stella Blue Porzungolo (Arch ‘20)

By Monica Abdallah (ChE ’17)

Stella Blue Porgunzulo - Photo Credit Monica Abdallah ChE'17

The Cooper Pioneer: Can you tell me about a summer experience you have had?

Stella Blue Porzungolo: The summer before my senior year, I took an internship at BAE Systems. It is a once British-owned, now American, global company that produces specialized, high grade military weapons and does scientific research. The internship, called Women in Technology, helped gear young women into working in STEM fields.

TCP: What work did you do while you were there?

SBP: I had two specific roles, one in software and one in mechanical engineering. Our main collaborative project was to hypothetically design and start to process thoughts, ideas, and rough detailing of a military watch. We looked at it through the lenses that someone as a mechanical engineer might and tested materials to produce the watch. These were the same materials that are used for hip or knee replacements. Similar materials that one would find in the medical field are used in designing tools for the military. We also completed a software engineering section in which we learned the basic coding and scripts to build the technical mechanisms of the military watch. We really got a full-rounded experience of the STEM fields.

TCP: What was the most interesting part of the internship?

 

SBP: I didn’t particularly like any section of the internship more than the other, because I know I don’t want to be an engineer. It helped me understand my passion for architectural design and differentiate my interests. But at BAE Systems, I particularly enjoyed the mechanical engineering.

TCP: So it solidified your choice to study architecture?

SBP: It didn’t solidify. It just made other less desired, but viable, career options crumble in my forefront.

TCP: Last question: Is there anything you learned that you are bringing with you to Cooper?

SBP: Collaboration is important. Talking is important. Critique is important. But motivation is key.

Claire Kleinman - Photo Credit Claire Kleinman (A'18) - low-res(2)

Summer Experiences: Claire Kleinman (Art ‘18)

Claire Kleinman - Photo Credit Claire Kleinman (A'18) - low-res(2)

The Cooper Pioneer interviewed current students from the art, architecture, and engineering schools about their summer experiences. The interviews will be published as a series. We hope they will serve to highlight the diverse achievements of our student body.

Here is our interview with Claire Kleinman (Art ‘18).

The Cooper Pioneer: Where did you visit this summer?

Claire Kleinman:This summer I visited Israel, then China, and then the West coast.

TCP: What made you want to travel to these places?

CK: It was mostly about spending time with my sister; we traveled together for the majority of the summer. The opportunities to visit these particular places sort of arose and we figured that if we didn’t go now we might never go.

TCP: What surprised you the most about the places you visited?

CK: I find the similarities always shocking, like when I meet someone and they remind me of someone from back home and there’s the realization that there are connections to be had everywhere. I noticed similar dynamics in groups of friends I met abroad that reminded me of my friends here.

TCP: What were the biggest cultural differences between NYC and the places you visited, and what was the most difficult adjustment you had to make?

CK: Language barriers are tough. Not being able to communicate verbally is always hard, but nonverbal communication is sometimes more rewarding—when you can be understood or understand without sharing the same language. Also, not being able to drink the tap water is hard, although tea is great!

TCP: What were your most memorable experiences?

CK: I love swimming, so any body of water was super great. When I was out in Northern California I camped by rivers the majority of the time. Sometimes I would get there at night and wake up next to these amazing watering holes. I also climbed a couple of mountains: one in Shangri-La and one in Humboldt County.

I also loved the desert in Joshua Tree National Park, although it was like 114 degrees. We had to sneak into the Ace Hotel pool in Palm Springs like four times a day just to survive. The big fat seals in Trinidad, California also deserve an honorable mention.

The history in Israel is incredibly dense, so visiting each place was always a really significant experience. You can feel the centuries of historical narrative in each space like layers of rock under your feet. It’s really embedded.

Toy factory outlets in Shenzhen…literally paradise. I also really enjoyed taking the overnight train to visit my friend, Fan-Fan, at her family’s ceramic factory. Her grandpa was a master ceramicist, so seeing his work both in his home and at the city’s museum was super special. Also triplet pandas in Guangzhou…so damn cute!

TCP: Did you have any particularly scary situations or difficulties while abroad?

CK: I held a lot of stray kitties that stayed around the hostel in Eilat, Israel. I’m pretty sure they gave me fleas because I had hundreds of itchy bites on my legs when I was there.

I also got really sick in Dali, located in the Yunnan province of China. I think I had a parasite but our neighbors really helped me out by getting antibiotics, and my sister carried soup from a temple 40 minutes away by foot. She’s great!

At the Salton Sea, I got a fish bone stuck in my foot, which later got infected. I did pull the bone out several weeks later and it was really satisfying. I also got my tragus pierced my first day a few hours after I got to LA from Hong Kong. That also got infected. Infections are not fun.

My sister and I ended up splitting up in LA. I canceled my flight home and bought a bus ticket to San Francisco. I didn’t have a phone with me or any way of telling the time so the eight-hour bus ride was pretty nerve-racking. I was really betting on this kid picking me up at the bus stop or else I’d be stranded in California with no money! But he did and I ended up staying out there for another three weeks.

TCP: What do you feel was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

CK: I feel like you’re not really a New Yorker unless you are constantly complaining about how you need to get out of the city. I was raised in NYC and I used to think that everyone in the world wanted to be here, but traveling and seeing how other people live around the world and how proud they are of their customs and heritage is really eye-opening.

I think I’d like to get closer and have more exposure to nature and places with natural beauty. Also, seeing the art around the world and how it’s rooted in religion and location and tradition is amazing. So, so cool. Honestly, I might just peace out to the desert till Cooper is free again. Bye!

Claire Kleinman - Photo Credit Claire Kleinman (A'18) - low-res(3)

Changes Made to Administrative Roles

By Daniel Galperin (ChE ‘18), Arnold Wey (EE ‘18), Brenda So (EE ‘18), Mary Dwyer (ChE ‘19)

You could say, “It has been a long summer.” In the course of the past three months, several administrators, including now former President Jamshed Bharucha and former Dean of Engineering Teresa Dahlberg, have ended their tenure at The Cooper Union. Richard Stock and Nader Tehrani were appointed as the Acting Dean of Engineering and Dean of Architecture, respectively. Bill Mea, former Vice President of Finance and Administration, was appointed as Acting President, and is to serve until the presidential selection committee decides on a new president. Dean of Students, Christopher Chamberlin, now reports directly to Acting President Mea. Others, such as Dean Baker and Dean O’Donnell will remain at Cooper, but have had a change in responsibility.

Former President Jamshed Bharucha announced his resignation on June 10, 2015. The Board of Trustee’s decision to not renew his contract came partway through his term. The nonrenewal and his subsequent resignation came at a critical moment in the Attorney General’s investigation.

A defining moment of Bharucha’s time at Cooper came when he made the announcement that charging tuition would be unavoidable. Following community backlash and the 65-day occupation of the President’s office by student protesters, his continued insistence that tuition was unavoidable made him unpopular among students, faculty, and alumni.

Some people applaud his frankness regarding Cooper’s fiscal situation, which his predecessor Campbell hid with accounting tricks and misrepresentations of Cooper Union’s finances. Others continue to criticize Bharucha for his administration’s failures in oversight and management of proposed revenue generating programs.

Following the nonrenewal of his contract by the Board of Trustees, Bharucha announced the decision to step down from his position as President of the Cooper Union, a year before his contract would have expired. He will be taking a post as a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

As Jamshed Bharucha stepped down, William ‘Bill’ Mea, former Vice President of Finance and Administration, was appointed Acting President. Mea began his career in higher education at Philadelphia University, eventually holding the title of Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance. He joined Cooper as Vice President of Finance and Administration in September 2014 and was appointed Acting President in July 2015.

On the subject of Cooper’s financial issues, Mea said that “One of the real roots is that we spend more money than we earn,” and right now “the goal is to become operationally adequate so we can at least break even and spend no more than we earn.” As to whether Cooper could buy and use real estate for much needed revenue, Mea states, “I don’t think that’s [buying real estate] short term. I think we need to get to the point where we are living within our means… and then we’ll see where we’ll go.” When asked about whether tuition is included as revenue for Cooper, he responded, “The numbers I put together, the budget and the future projections, include tuition for now.”

In response to the strained relationship between students and administration, he said that, “There’s deep caring, even within the administration, for this place. Everybody I meet wants this place to succeed. Sometimes the views on how to do that might be different.” In his interim role as Acting President, one of his goals is to “deliver to the community a new president, with the trust partially rebuilt, the healing at least partially done.”

Mea sees his role as an opportunity to have the administration invariably follow through on its word to the community and to build a foundation of trust for the President that follows him. In addition, Mea is also looking forward to “a really great year where we celebrate the faculty, celebrate the students and return to the core roots of who we are.”

Former Dean of Engineering and Chief Academic Officer Teresa Dahlberg submitted her resignation on May 4, 2015 and left The Cooper Union on June 30, 2015. Having come to The Cooper Union from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she was the Associate Dean of The College of Computing and Informatics, Dahlberg was hired with tenure and took on her duties at The Cooper Union in August 2013.

At Cooper, Dahlberg’s most notable work was the attempted establishment of the Computer Science (CS) program. The CS program did not come to fruition due to opposition from the student body, faculty, and ultimately intervention from the Office of the Attorney General.

Dahlberg also led in the publication of the Minority Report, a report that formally refuted the suggestions made by the Working Group to find an alternative to implementing tuition. The Working Group was a group of students, faculty and administrators who came together to propose alternative strategies to establish financial stability at Cooper Union. The Minority Report, in which Dahlberg was one of four authors, claimed that the Working Group’s Report did not “constitute a cohesive, well-considered, implementable plan.”

She is also credited by former President Jamshed Bharucha for increasing the applicant pool of the class of 2019 by 67% compared to the previous year, and 33% larger than ever in the history of The Cooper Union.

After almost two years of service to The Cooper Union, Dahlberg will begin a new role as Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University as of August 1, 2015. Cooper’s new Acting Dean of Engineering is Richard Stock, former President of the Cooper Union Federation of College Teachers.

Dr. Bonnie John (ME ’77) resigned from her position as Director of Computation and Innovation after taking on the role in December 2014. She originally accepted the position in order to provide insight and advice on the Computer Science program in the works.

As the CS program’s questionable academic rigor raised concerns in the community, John stepped down, remaining as director of the NYC Summer@Cooper program, which offers participants experience with IBM Watson, developing business ideas that use Watson’s artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities.

Stephen Baker, formerly the Vice President of both Student Affairs and Community Relations as well as Dean of Athletics, has also seen a change in responsibilities under Acting President Mea. As of August 14, 2015 Baker remains the Vice President of Community Relations as well as Dean of Athletics, but is no longer Vice President of Student Affairs.

When asked what his plans were moving forward in light of this change, Baker responded: “I intend on continuing to focus on the students and remaining peripatetic in my work with students, alumni and the Cooper community.”

Christopher Chamberlin, who joined the Cooper community in 2013 as Director of Residence Life and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, was named Dean of Students in 2014. As of August 14, 2015, all of the responsibilities of the Vice President of Student Affairs have been allocated to Christopher Chamberlin as the Dean of Students.

Although his title has not changed, Dean Chamberlin now reports directly to Acting President Bill Mea. Mea commented, “Elevating the Dean of Students to report directly to the President, in both in real terms and symbolic terms, allows us to focus on our students and our faculty [which is the main goal of the administration].” Chamberlin substantiated this point by saying, “Having a direct reporting structure is a signifier of how important student affairs is to the institution. It ensures the student’s voice can be heard.”

Elizabeth O’Donnell, having been Associate Dean of Architecture for eleven years, became Acting Dean of Architecture on August 1, 2012 as Former Dean Vidler began a nine-month sabbatical and stepped down from deanship on June 30, 2013. Dean O’Donnell remained Acting Dean until the appointment of Nader Tehrani as Dean of Architecture in July 2015. Professor O’Donnell has returned to her position as Associate Dean of Architecture and continues to teach courses in the School of Architecture.