Letter from the Faculty Union president on CU’s finances

Shane Kennedy October 30, 2011

Letter from Faculty Union President:
> Subject: Message from Richard Stock
> > Members of the CUFCT:
> > I want to update you on some of the issues I covered in our last general meeting, specifically the financial situation. As you know The Cooper Union is facing financial difficulties. The President has asked that the full-time faculty and librarians help him and the administration address the various problems. Before doing so we have asked the administration to provide us with reliable data so that we understand what are our expenditures. The source we decided to use was the 990’s filed with the IRS.
> > I have attached a couple of pdf’s (ed. see the post on Cooper’s financial documents). One is a set of graphs representing data extracted from the 990’s. This is public domain information and is not confidential. The graphs show data for categories of expenditure that have significant impact on Cooper Union’s “bottom line”. For example, the first graph shows the increase in Compensation (Salaries and Wages) since 1995. You might be interested to know that the annual total of the base salaries of the members of the CUFCT has hovered around the $5M mark since 2000. Occasionally we go above $5M but then a senior member retires and we drop below that mark. So the $10M increase shown in the graph is absolutely nothing to do with the CUFCT!
> > The second document attached is a set of questions we have presented to TC. They are self-explanatory. As yet we have not received any answers but the data and the graphs do show that the major increases in expenditures are not due to the academic programs, e.g., an increase in the Interest Cooper pays from around $1M to just over $10M due to the $175M borrowed for the new building! Indeed, the academic programs have consistently been effective and productive despite the last eleven years when they were left to languish by the Trustees and the administration. More importantly the data shows that much of the increased costs can be laid directly at the feet of the previous administration. Remember, President Campbell was touted as the President who was going to set The Cooper Union straight financially. Instead he has sent us on a path to ruin and the Trustees signed off on his every decision.
> > We have told TC that the financial predicament that we find ourselves in was not caused by the academic functions of the college. The CUFCT’s position is that the cause of the problem was extremely bad management, outrageously bad decisions and complete lack of oversight or engagement by the Trustees. Specifically, we told TC that the Trustees “broke it”, they now “own it” and they must “fix it” and that means they should “break out the check books!” It is imperative for the Trustees to take ownership of this disaster if they want to have any credibility and cooperation in their plans to pull The Cooper Union out of this hole. We must be vigilant, engaged and vocal about proposed plans especially as they may undermine our programs and jeopardize our academic stature.
> > The CUFCT believes that our new President is a breath of fresh air after a long and painful decade. I am sure we all want The Cooper Union on a path to sustainability, however, if we want to retain our reputation and our excellence we must be active in the recovery process.

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