A Logical Process for addressing large problems.

Benjamin Degen November 4, 2011

The Cooper Union was founded, and functions as an embodiment of the principals of logic, scientific method and empirical thinking.  Apparently these principles so revered by the student body and faculty, have not extended to the administration of the school itself.  Now we must stand together- students, faculty, administration and alumni- the entire Cooper Union community must be invited to collectively address the current state of the institution.  Fortunately as Architects, Artists and Engineers we are all well trained in using empirical methodologies to solve problems. Let’s start now.
I will first state an architecture for a generalized methodology. This methodology should be familiar to all. Architects, Artists and Engineers use it daily. It should be noted that organizations employing good and responsible governance do as well.
1. State the perceived condition (problem) as clearly as possible.
2. Propose a process for investigating this condition.
3. Implement the process of investigation.
4. State the findings of the investigation.
5. Interpret the findings (data) of the investigation.
6. Propose specific solutions to the specific and discrete aspects of the condition.
This is a process that the students, faculty and alumni engage in every day in their studios, laboratories and professional practices. It is reasonable for us to demand this process from our administration. It is our responsibility, just as it is our responsibility to hold our peers to account in critique and peer review, to hold the administrators to the highest level of practice and most rigorous application of process.
How would this general process as listed above apply specifically to a president and board of directors of an institution who are charged with the dual task of a) uncovering and understanding the full extent of past mismanagement and b) implementing a new policy to correct the past mismanagement and ensure that it is not repeated while taking new steps to revive the health of the institution?
There are protocols for undertaking this process. It is not uncommon for an institution that handles large amounts of money or property, that certain individuals may act in their own self interest rather than the interests of the institution. This is a problem that needs to be addressed systematically by accepted practices of governance. So how specifically should we implement the protocols of good governance here? Here is a proposal for a well tested and accepted method:
1. State the perceived condition as clearly as possible.
2. Propose a specific process for investigating the condition.
4. State the findings of the auditors.
5. Have independent experts interpret the findings of the audit and state clearly a) Where best practices have not been followed b) Where inefficiencies or redundancies exist and c) Where there may be evidence of malfeasance or theft.
6. Have the administration put forward their proposals for how to address these findings and propose new policies.
7. Open the process up to a period of PUBLIC COMMENT where the concerns of the entire Cooper Union Community can be heard.
8. Cooperatively choose the best course of action.

President Bharucha has said that he is committed to an open process.  We should invite him to make good on his word.  The Cooper Union is a union of thinkers across a diverse range of disciplines.  We, as thinkers, have a hunger for facts and clarity, and a hatred of lies.  President Bharucha, give us the open process that is our due.  We are critical thinkers; our community is made up of some of the most distinguished critical thinkers in the world.  We all deeply cherish the institution of The Cooper Union and we are all committed to ensuring its wellbeing and its place of preeminence in the Arts and Sciences.  In us, you have a wealth of experience to draw upon. We would rather be your partners than your adversaries in this process.
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