The Cooper Union

12th President, 2011-2015

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Cooper Union is an extraordinary insitution founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, a self-made entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary. He mandated that working class students should attend tuition-free, and that the highest possible standards of excellence be maintained.

 

Within three months of assuming the Presidency of Cooper Union in 2011, Jamshed Bharucha uncovered a financial disaster, including an annual burn rate of 20%-30% of the budget continuously since 1991, with only three years remaining until insolvency. He confronted an impending catastrophe that had been ignored for a quarter century and that threatened closure.

 

Searching for answers in the institution's history, he learned - contrary to the widespread narrative - that Peter Cooper had charged tuition to those who could afford it, so that the working classes could attend free. He worked with the Board to put in place a Financial Sustainability Plan: 50%-discounted tuition for all undergraduates, making Cooper Union half as expensive as other private schools for middle and upper income families; free tuition and enhanced assistance for living expenses for students who are Pell-eligible (below the median income); and innovative new academic programs that would reduce the per-student cost and energize the institution during this transition. Insolvency was averted, academic excellence was maintained (engineering applications increased 66%!) and - true to Peter Cooper's commitment to the poor - the proportion of students from families below median income soared from 16% to 25%.

IIT-Bombay and Cooper Union

Signing the MOU between IIT-Bombay and Cooper Union, setting up a student exchange. Seated are IIT-Bombay Director Devang Khakhar and Cooper Union President Bharucha. Teresa Dahlberg, Dean of Engineering and Chief Academic Officer is standing, with Associate Dean of Engineering George Delagrammaticas on her left. IIT alumnus Ruyington Mehta sponsored the program.