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Update 3 - Is Cooper Union a Commercial Enterprise

Is Cooper Union a Commercial Enterprise or a School?

While the correct answer to that question is obvious to virtually every student, teacher, and alum of Cooper Union, it appears that's not the case with the Board of Trustees. Last week, the Board's new law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP (apparently replacing Winston & Strawn, LLP), requested, on the Board's behalf, that the NY Supreme Court's Civil Branch transfer the Save Cooper Union lawsuit to the Commercial Division.

On Friday, Administrative Judge Hon. Sherry Klein Heitler unambiguously denied the Board of Trustees motion, writing:

“This matter does not involve ‘business dealings’ … but rather the alleged mismanagement and governance of a not-for-profit educational institution. Thus, it does not fall within the guidelines for assignment to the Commercial Division.”

Save Cooper Union's opposition to the Board’s transfer motion includes a helpful summary of the case. The Court's full response is also available.

The Board’s troubling tactic is symptomatic of the ongoing danger to Cooper Union. Controlling members of the board, including President Jamshed Bharucha, act as if the school is a commercial asset that they can manage and “reinvent” in any way they see fit. The Save Cooper Union lawsuit, holds them responsible to the specific intent of the Trust that formed and governs the school.

And there is more…

In other news, the CUFCT Faculty Union wrote a memorandum in response to the Petition. Their reaction to the factual allegations in our Petition was that:

“they appear to conform substantially to what we know about the events, information and documents that the Petition covers.” It goes on to point out that, “Since the Fall of 2011 the CUFCT has consistently maintained that the cause of the financial situation at The Cooper Union was extremely bad management, outrageously bad decisions and complete lack of oversight or engagement by the Trustees.”

So far 575 people have contributed over $106,000 to our legal efforts, but we are still short of our $150,000 goal with only 11 days left in this campaign. Please contribute to the legal fund to help us continue fighting to Save Cooper Union.

Thank you,

The Committee to Save Cooper Union
For more information, see: http://savecooperunion.org/