Tag Archives: 9-19-2016

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.” ◊


Meet the First Years: Juan José García (Art ‘20)

By Monica Chen (ME ’18)


Meet Juan José García (Art ‘20). Photo by Wentao Zhang (ChE ‘19).

“I’m not willing to let go of being able to make art for the sake of art.”

Why did you choose to come to Cooper? 

I was somewhat convinced I wasn’t going to get into Cooper and I was looking at fashion design colleges like Central Saint Martins and Parsons Paris. Ironically though, those fell through because I couldn’t afford them whereas Cooper offered me an amazing scholarship. It was just one of those things that make you think “oh, it must be a sign.”

How did you hear of Cooper Union?

My first contact at Cooper was actually one of my best friends, Valerie Franco. We were really close friends in high school and Cooper was her dream school. I remember when she was doing her home test, I was thinking, “I am not applying there—it’s too much.” Then senior year came around and as my art started to evolve, I decided that it would be a nice challenge to try the home test.

Where are you from?

I am Colombian but I came to the US when I was 12. I’ve lived in Orlando, New Jersey, and  Miami. When I was 16, I convinced my mother to move north because she was having difficulty finding a job as she didn’t know English. I, however, stayed in Miami and attended Design and Architecture Senior High School (DASH). I was confident that despite the fact that my mother moved away, my high school could help me achieve my goals in terms of college.

What did you think of the turmoil that happened at Cooper before you arrived?

I like that the politics makes you think about your own school and why these issues matter, especially when so many people can’t afford to go to college. It also starts a conversation about college and higher education in general, so it actually made me very happy to see that the students at Cooper are taking the initiative to think about what is going on and engaging in an active conversation.

What interests or inspires you in your art?

It varies. About a year ago I was painting portraits of myself with makeup on as a means of exploring gender identity and sexual orientation. About 6 months ago, I started delving into my experience living alone as a teenager and the associated feelings of isolation and displacement. Right before coming to Cooper, I was exploring ideas of human processes; to me, that is what art is about. It’s somewhat of a mirror reflecting how we interact as humans. Recently, I’ve been interested in the more abstract concept of exploring such processes and trying to map out these interactions.

So how does it feel to call New York City your home?

It’s funny, Colombia is a well-developed country but as a kid, there’s still that small third-world feeling of “America is America.” I always dreamed of being able to live in a city like New York but it’s still difficult to accept the fact that I am living here. It’s weird because when significant things happen in your life, it’s hard to accept that your dreams are taking form. I love it though, it’s my city; I’m not a naïve person and yet I feel safe.

What was your impression of Cooper Union when you first arrived?

I had an idea of what the people were like because of my friend but I had never been to the school until move-in day. I couldn’t make Admitted Students Day as I was preparing for my high school fashion show. Cooper is a very lively little hub and at first, I was overwhelmed just by being here (but in a good way).

Tell me more about your fashion show in high school.

DASH (NOT the Kardashian store) is a tiny school of 500 people in the middle of the design district in Miami. In sophomore year, students need to choose from five paths: fashion design, graphic design, industrial design, film and television, and architecture. I chose fashion design which came with a very rigorous workload. Our “senior thesis” was a project in which we had to design our own clothing and patterns and cut and sew our own fabric. My collection was a combination of my interpretation of modernity and my Colombian roots. It was a great experience and an amazing production and it’s unbelievable that the show is entirely student-run.

So has this fashion show experience
inspired you to continue pursuing fashion design during or after Cooper?

Everyone at DASH was going to fashion design schools and I applied and got in, but I felt that none of the schools were a perfect fit for me as they were either in a place where I didn’t think I’d flourish or were not in the urban setting I was looking for. When Cooper came about, I was very excited but it was conflicting because Cooper doesn’t offer fashion design—it’s just art. Then I sat down and really thought about it; people [from DASH] have done things that no one else has done before at DASH and I hadn’t seen anyone approach fashion design from an art background. I had my practice with fashion design so I know what the technical skills are but I wanted to explore this more artistic and experimental side, and see how that plays out. I’m not willing to let go of being able to make art for the sake of art. I can create my own path in a way that I haven’t seen people from my school do by going to art school and then figuring my way around and still do whatever I want to do. In order to create the kind of fashion design I wanted to make, I knew I had to be intense about my art. ◊