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Promises Promises

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Do you keep the promises you make? Can others rely on you to speak your mind? Do you exercise good judgment? Are your motives beyond reproach? Tough standards to meet, but if you can honestly answer “yes” to all four questions, you surely have earned the trust of many.

How do you rate Cooper Union’s President and Board of Trustees against those standards?

  • In 2006 the Trustees and President promised to reduce operating expenses by 10% by 2011. (Actually, they swore to the NYS Supreme Court that they would do so.) The promise was a reduction of 10%, the result was an increase of 53% (from 2006 to 2010).
  • President Bharucha said many times that tuition was “a last resort.” Do you believe he was honestly speaking his mind or simply trying to placate the community?
  • Former President Campbell defends the building of the $167,000,000 new academic building as a cost-saving and prudent deal. Do you think his view is credible and that he and the Board exercised good judgment in sinking so much borrowed cash into one structure?
  • Trustee Robert Bernhard, back when he was the board chair, managed about 20% of Cooper Union’s investable endowment in his money management firm, Munn Bernhard & Associates, Inc. Later Cooper Union’s Trustees placed 60% of the managed portfolio into hedge funds, and the administration has refused to disclose which hedge funds were invested in. Do you see that as a potential conflict of interest, an example of mixed motives? Poor judgment?

Unfortunately, we could add many more disturbing examples, from endangering Cooper Union’s unique tax exemption to engaging the company of the son of a sitting board member to oversee construction of an outlandishly priced trophy building. We’ve written before about the arrogance and lack of judgment in spending $350,000 on President Bharucha’s inauguration during a fiscal crisis and hiring Bo Dietl’s security firm at a time when calm, not provocation was most needed.

So back to our question. How do you rate Cooper Union’s President and Board of Trustees on promise-keeping, being forthright, exercising good judgment, and having pure motives? Our assessment of their performance is grim and compels us to fight to Save Cooper Union.

We promise to do everything we can to force the Board of Trustees and the Administration to keep the promises they made to defend Peter Cooper’s Trust and Charter. We promise to fight for an unflinching review of the financial dealings that sparked the fiscal crisis. We promise to help form The Associates of Cooper Union to assist and balance the power of the Trustees. We promise to put everything we can into saving Cooper Union. We keep our promises. Please help fund this critical effort.

Below are original artworks donated for your contributions.

New! Juliet Shen, Art ’73
An original ink on paper monoprint, (drawing over a background relief print) entitled “Confluence 3”, 2013, 15 x 22 inches. Available unframed for a contribution of $600. Juliet is an artist and a typeface designer living in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Cooper Union’s nighttime certificate program in 1973 and also has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA from the University of Reading (UK) in typeface design. She is a member of the Duwamish Residency, a group of 12 Seattle-based artists who convene for an eight-day local residency every summer. She also teaches typography at the School of Visual Concepts and has been active in TypeCon conferences, especially in the Type and Design Education Forum. Her publications on typography include Searching for Morris Fuller Benton and Aesthetic Innovation in Indigenous Typefaces: Designing a Lushootseed Font. Her fine art is represented by Cullom Gallery. For more info, see: www.julietshen.com

Beth Livensperger, Art ’01

An original 20 x 30 gouache painting on paper, entitled “Stacks,” depicting a quiet setting in a library. Available for a contribution of $1,100.
Beth is a painter who lives and works in Queens, NY. She has exhibited in numerous locations nationally and internationally, including New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Santa Monica, and Seoul. She has been an Aldrich Museum Radius Fellow, and done residencies at the Weir Farm, Vermont Studio Center, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. In 2010 - 11 she was an Artist in Residence at the Abrons Art Center in Manhattan. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at SUNY Purchase. She holds an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Art (2008). For more info, see: http://www.bethlivensperger.com

Julia Weist, Art ’07
An original 20 x 24 inch painting, “Color Derived From Genre 1 (Romance)” is rendered in paint that is handmade from ground up books, and applied to linen. Available for a contribution of $800.
From a series that uses the physical materiality of genre (ink and paper quality, size and proportion of text and imagery on the printed page) as pigment. Book sections are pulverized to a ground, mixed with clear gesso and applied to stretched linen.
Julia is an artist working in Brooklyn, NY and Durham, NY. Recent exhibitions include a two-person installation with Haim Steinbach and group shows at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and Meulensteen Gallery. Her work has recently been featured in BOMB, The Paris Review, The New Yorker and Artforum. For more info, please see: http://www.deaccession.org

To claim any of these new artwork perks, simply visit our Indiegogo page, select the perk and follow the directions. More information on these artworks can be found at the bottom of our Indiegogo page.

Sincerely yours,

The Committee to Save Cooper Union Founding Directors:
Adrian Jovanovic, CU BSE ’89
Mike Essl, Associate Professor of Art, CU ART ’96, M.F.A.
Toby Cumberbatch, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Ph.D.