Cooper Union to return to tuition-free model
The Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU) has successfully convinced Cooper Union's Board of Trustees to reconsider their decision to charge tuition to ease the institution's financial crisis, a move that would have upended a 150-year tradition of free scholarships. Along with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of the New York Attorney General's Office and the CSCU, Cooper Union signed a Consent Decree that will, in the words of the CSCU, "enable Cooper Union to find a practical path back to its full scholarship model; give alumni, students, faculty, and staff a powerful role in Cooper’s governance; institute strict oversight of the school’s progress toward its goals; spur a serious effort to balance its budget; and reform its governance." The CSCU has correspondingly settled its lawsuit against Cooper Union.
The Attorney General's Office has also filed a cy pres petition, which attributes the Attorney General's intervention in the matter to a need "to safeguard Peter Cooper's irreplaceable gift to the people of New York."
Some of the provisions of the cy pres and the Consent Decree state that:
- Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees, together with the community, will work to return Cooper Union to a high-quality, sustainable, tuition-free model as soon as practical. A special committee of the Board will be dedicated to development of a strategic plan to return the school to its traditional tuition-free policy;
- Alignment of the trust and charter of the school, through the cy pres petition, to reflect the evolution of the institution into its modern form and provide for judicial oversight of the effort to return to a full tuition scholarship model;
- Expansion of the Board to include student trustees (2), additional alumni trustees (2), and faculty and staff representatives (6);
- Establishment of the Council of the Associates of Cooper Union—comprised of the alumni, student, and faculty trustees—with the charge to develop a full plan and proposal for The Associates of Cooper Union.
- Appointment of an independent financial monitor who will be responsible for evaluating and reporting on the financial management of Cooper Union, including compliance with the Consent Decree;
- Transparent disclosure of Board materials, budget documents, and investment results;
- Formation of a board committee to further reform the school’s governance; and
- An inclusive search committee to identify the next full-term president.
For more Cooper Union coverage:
• Cooper Union graduates stage tuition protest at commencement ceremony
• Five Cooper Union trustees just resigned