Professor Diane Lewis, Architecture October 31, 2011

I attended one of the standard introductory meetings with the new president in August, which included a group of ten faculty members. Professor Christine Osinski asked the first question which i remember as:
” did the board give you a mandate.”

Towards the end of his agenda for the meeting, the new President related his research on the founding years of the board meetings in the mid 19th century. He informed us of the fact that as early as the beginning of the institution the laborers and women for whom the school was founded attended free, according to the principle of the school, but because the courses were excellent, people of means wanted to attend and that the board decided to call those people ” amateurs” and they paid a small fee. Presdient Bharucha pro- rated the amateur fee of the 1850s to determine what is would be worth today and told us the figure.

Therefore, at the meeting I attended,  President Bharucha was giving a historical example of a financial solution from the founding period,
to allow some special persons of means at that time,
who wished to study with those covered by the mandate for free study-
to enter the school with those people who were attending free.

That is not what the contemporary financial structure of the school has evolved to represent -in the present.
And our structure is not one of awarding those of little means a scholarship- its a more complex and important model for the nation and the world at present.

Most importantly- In the arts, it is one of the few remaining ” prix de” models- where only excellence and aptitude in the fine arts and architecture is rewarded with the recognition of a studio school of practicing artists and architects, and is unique in that fact.
Losing the full scholarship tuition in the fine arts and architecture has a different significance to our future, and to the history of those disciplines, than in the sciences.

I had hoped to hear more about how we evolved from that to the important status of our admissions and full scholarship policy from the 1850s to today.The historical analysis will be useful to our challenge and our solutions. Our faculty has not formally discussed any of this, and there has been no discussion as of yet, of for example, cutting the enrollment during this diffcult time in order to maintain the quality created by the fact of a meritocratic only admission policy.

He also told us that
this was our first meeting and that we should be a family and be confidential as none of the issues discussed were being put forth until we all examined them according to proper institutional and academic form.

As a tenured faculty member of 29 years, I have had no formal communication from the Dean or the President that there is a proposal or a plan being put forward for tuition.

I suggest, for the benefit of the cause of keeping our school a meritocracy with full scholarship tuition-that there be a very precise record of the events that have spawned the current discussion.

I have no formal announcement of a proposal for changing the status of our school from that of a full scholarship tuition to an alternative financial model and will appreciate if anyone has received one to document it on this site.I have not been informed by the Dean or the President that this is a formal action.

I am on sabbatical and was guest lecturer at the University in San Juan Puerto Rico last week, and returned to a barrage of emails talking about the threat of a major change to the school , and the invitation to this site.

I am not informed of what has been told to the students during this short period since the inauguration, and suggest that there be a very precise time line built by all those participating in this site so that we may find out if this situation is one of extreme emergency and whether such an enormous transformation to the quality and principles of the school is going to be conducted without respect for academic order and sovereignty.
No emergency if it is one, should be allowed to shake the foundations of such a great sustained accomplishment as our school. I am sure that the community, if properly informed can find a manner by which this proposal and its source and its precise raison d’etre can be addressed with the proper form of voting and analysis within the academic order.
I am expecting that any such changes conceived by the board, will be presented in a manner by which the rules and procedures for examining it by the faculties, and the students, and their analysis and findings sent to the Deans for discussion with( a Provost is necessary here)  and the President will be followed.

Having returned yesterday, to a barrage of emails that made me aware of this site, but that does not reveal the order in which this crisis has evolved,
I will appreciate any record of the exact events or words in which any concrete mention of changing our status from that of a meritocratic full scholarship tuition school was made.
It is very important to me, that before i write a letter of response that i can find out if there has been any written document or spoken description of the proposal, formally administered to any one in the Cooper Union.

I haven’t heard any evaluation or slate of potential solutions to financial crisis presented to our faculty either. Has anyone in the community been presented with a precise analysis of the thinking the duration proposed etc?

One obvious route is to cut the enrollment to weather this period which would allow us to remain true to the excellence of our record.

When, and in what form are we going to evaluate or work to derive the method by which the financial crisis that the entire economy must survive, should be addressed by our ideals?

And when are we going to know, r have proof as to whether the trustees have been working to secure our status with the Mayor,  Clinton Foundation, the present President, the governor, senators, and major foundations, who have sat,  and do sit on the board of this school,
over many years and the recent past.

These are the responsible civic figures we have witnessed on the stage of the Great hall over many years, paying homage to our educational model and pledging their recognition and support of this school as the ideal model in the world. I would like to think the Trustees can enlist the brilliance of the new President to go up into the ranks of national vision to preserve our status before sending a message out of the administration into our educational community ,which in my view could become divisive and detrimental at this time in the semester, and in history.

Diane Lewis

Thank you.

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