Why Is Cooper Unique

Bruce Degen November 3, 2011

I am really concerned that the trustees of The Cooper Union do not really understand the special mission that has made it THE MOST UNIQUE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION in the country.  That GROWTH is not the aim of Cooper, that maintenance of that ideal is the aim of Cooper Union.  If foolish and vainglorious building programs have thrust vast debts onto the school, if poor management and poor investment is the problem, then we need trustees who can deal with that, and not go for more of the same.  Remember that Peter Cooper himself tried to run for President, and his platform was to deal with the runaway greed of the financial institutions in America in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.  Nothing has changed.  But the great surge of civics and reform is definitely missing in America today, and it is NOT OK to align The Cooper Union with the ethics of money that prevail.  Young people growing up in New York today do not have what I had—a totally free City University, free admission to the Metropolitan Museum, The Natural History, The Brooklyn, The Botanic Gardens—these all cost something today.  Why, is the country poorer?  Let us not throw The Cooper Union into the pile with every institution that has regressed from the civic good.
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