Caroline Yu (EE ’15) and Joseph T. Colonel (EE ’15)
This article serves to update the Cooper community on as many aspects of the Cooper Union Alumni Association (CUAA) as possible. Facts have been based on articles from the CUAA website and opinions have been obtained from various Cooper Union alumni.
Throughout 2014, the relationship between the CUAA and the school administration changed drastically. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a document that describes the operating relationship between the Cooper Union, the Board of Trustees, and the CUAA. President Bharucha and the administration overrode this agreement in the following ways.
- All financial support for operations were withdrawn and the bank account that used to contribute to the CUAA with funding was closed.
- On-campus meeting space was denied for the CUAA and the Robert Torraco Alumni Space in the Cooper dormitory was converted to an administration office without any prior notice in April of 2014. An embargo on the objects in the Alumni Space lasted about 60 days. Although alumni have no issue with repurposing the space to save Cooper money in rent and allow student services to be closer to students, it is important to note that the CUAA was not consulted beforehand.
- In addition, in September of 2014, the Director of the Office of Alumni Affairs told members of the CUAA that the school would no longer support the CUAA financially or with administrative support. Because of this, the cualumni.com website would no longer be maintained.
A group consisting of the CUAA President, the CUAA Secretary-Treasurer, members of the Board of Trustees, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, President Bharucha and his Alumni Director has been meeting since November of 2014 to restore a working relationship between the CUAA and the administration.
In November of 2014, John Leeper (Arch ‘85), CUAA President, listed three items that the CUAA Council was hoping to address by the end of the year. The first was to return the CUAA’s status of being of 501(c)(3) organization. The CUAA wishes to be able to accept tax free donations from future events and projects. The second was an outreach campaign to contact every living Cooper alumnus. The third was to poll alumni and determine what the most important tasks are for the CUAA.
Later in November the Cooper Union Board of Trustees, Cooper Union administration, and the CUAA met. The temporary ban of CUAA events on campus was overturned and on-campus meeting space was made available to the CUAA. The CUAA will soon regain its tax-exempt status. Though the original CUAA website was deactivated, the new website for the CUAA is up and running at cooperalumni.org.
It was also stated that the CUAA and Cooper Union will continue to work cooperatively on alumni events. However, Founder’s Day will be entirely sponsored, planned, and carried out by the CUAA, scheduled for Sunday, April 26. Alumni awards will be given out and entertainment will be provided at the Peter Cooper Block Party. Information can be found at cooperalumni.org/founders-day-2015.
The CUAA Executive Committee set up an online forum so that alumni could ask questions about the Joint Statement released after the meeting with the Board of Trustees, administration and the CUAA.
One question pertained to communication from the CUAA to its members. CUAA members now receive news directly from the CUAA Council instead of having the Cooper Union Alumni Office send out information on the CUAA’s behalf.
Issues regarding the Annual Fund were also addressed. The CUAA has in the past collaborated with the Development manager in charge of the fund. Now, as of 2011, the Development Office is in charge of the Annual Fund.
Lastly, the CUAA has stressed the importance of continuing to fight tuition at Cooper. Resolutions related to tuition as well as the mission of the Cooper Union were sent out to alumni via emails and newsletter or posted on the CUAA website. The most recent resolution was written on August 6, 2014 and reads as follows: “The CUAA is committed to a return to free tuition for all students, and encourages all efforts to defend the Charter and founding documents, founding principles, and Mission of Cooper Union which states that ‘the College admits undergraduates solely on merit and awards full scholarships to all enrolled students.’ To this end, we resolve to make it a priority to provide current, relevant and accurate information related to the tuition controversy and related developments, in an effort to foster an informed alumni body. Furthermore, we unequivocally respect and defend each individual’s right to engage in and support efforts to defend the Mission of Cooper Union as they see fit.”
For 2015, members of the CUAA are voting on CUAA Council positions and three referendum questions. CUAA members will be able to meet the candidates on Tuesday, April 14 at 6 PM. The positions being sought after are CUAA president, Alumni Trustee, Secretary-Treasurer, VP/Faculty-Student, VP/Alumni Activities, Nominating Committee, and spots on the CUAA Council. The three referendum questions pertain to supporting the continued fight against tuition, the status of the CUAA being a 501(c)(3) organization, and the CUAA’s representation on the Board of Trustees. There has been an emphasis on making sure that alumni answer the referendum questions responsibly and carefully.
A letter from John Leeper to all Cooper alumni highlights the CUAA Election for 2015, how CUAA will be an independent organization, and restates the CUAA’s mission to serve alumni and the Cooper Union. The entire letter and more general information on the CUAA may be found at: cooperalumni.org/cuaa-election-2015-letter-from-john-leeper.