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    Cooper Union's shaky finances: tuition to come?

    Javier Arbona-Homar
    Nov 1, '11 8:39 PM EST

    Via @bldgblog: Kevin Slavin writes... (w/ emphasis added)

    The former president and current trustees have imperiled the future of the only tuition-free undergraduate degree in the United States, and unless someone has an idea for how to make up $16MM a year, it ends soon, quietly, after 150 years.

    No one will ever know the names of the trustees who “invested” over $170MM on a new building that no one wanted. Generating over $10MM in annual interest payments alone on an operating budget that used to be $40MM.

    All for a building that will soon be populated like all the other buildings in Manhattan: a bunch of people born wealthy, unaware that where they are sitting was ever any different.

    And: "Cooper wouldn't even be Cooper anymore." More to be found on Google News, etc...

    (photo taken by me)


    • great building though. 


      do you think it was any of these guys (cooper union trustees) who did the deal/deed?

      anyway the idea is they only charge wealthy people isn't it?  slippery slope and all that but still lets be honest about what it means.  no need to panic just yet.  although it does fell eerily like the investments made here in tokyo during the bubble.

      Nov 1, 11 10:42 pm  · 

      What are those letters/initials with the numbers after some of their names? 

      Nov 1, 11 11:51 pm  · 

      Nam, program/degree and year graduated.

      Nov 2, 11 12:14 am  · 

      If this is true, it would be a shame to loose this special institution. 

      Nov 2, 11 10:09 am  · 

      I just want to note that this is not the only tuition-free undergraduate college. Aside from several minuscule two-year colleges (such as Deep Springs), the Frank Olin School of Engineering is a pretty recent example of a four-year institution that is both highly regarded and does not charge tuition.

      That said, there are many new details coming to light and we have yet to hear the full story. There was on open forum the other night which was as informative as it was tense.

      @Nam: The letters refer to what program they graduated from. No letters mean they didn't graduate from Cooper. Ar = architecture, A = art, ME/CE/EE/ChE = mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical engineering.

      Nov 2, 11 11:33 am  · 

      The new building cost $120m– $190m was raised but many of the donations were bequeathments (and so these amounts had to be factored into the loan, which was for $175m, until those people kick the bucket and the cash spills out).

      Nov 2, 11 11:42 am  · 
      • "the Frank Olin School of Engineering is a pretty recent example of a four-year institution that is both highly regarded and does not charge tuition."

      The Frank Olin School of Engineering is a pretty recent example of a four year institution that had to start charging tuition. Cooper Union is the last.

      • "anyway the idea is they only charge wealthy people isn't it?"

      They have to make up 16MM on 900 students just to get to zero. That's 30K per student, mean. They would have to charge wealthy people a lot more than they'd pay to go a school that isn't bankrupt to begin with. Even if those other schools don't have brand new buildings.

      Further, you tell me how to run admissions to make sure that you get enough wealthy students in classes? Do you think it will look like Cooper Union looks now? Or more like any other school that rewards privilege over merit?

      Nov 4, 11 12:49 am  · 

      That's sad to hear, although Cooper is still not the last. Curtis, Berea, and College of the Ozarks are still running their full tuition programs. I don't mean to downplay the importance of the scholarship at Cooper, but as a relatively small institution I think it's only fair to recognize others– though obviously at here it's a legacy that's long-standing (and hopefully continues for much, much longer).

      Nov 4, 11 1:12 pm  · 

      @Ian Smith: It's a great point, and I think it's speaks to having now to explore the history of free education, tuition-less public education, or full-tuition programs... There is a very diverse mix of things when you look at it carefully. Not all are degree-granting, but certainly a way for people to access knowledge. It's also important to think about other means by which people can access public education. Up until recently, UC Berkeley had a highly-subsidized child care program, for example. The admin made sure to cut that off and now I imagine a few dozen moms, and perhaps dads also, have had to drop out of school. :-[

      Nov 4, 11 1:22 pm  · 

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A bezoar is a mass of disparate pieces and materials. For this blog, you will find something somewhere between tweet-length posts and tumblelogging; inchoate thoughts; provocations and assorted scraps that don't fit anyplace else; criticisms of a political and geographic variety; ecoaffective ramblings; spatial imaginaries that don't conform. On Twitter: @AlJavieera; 1/3rd of @Demilit; bookmarked content: @AJFavorite.

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