Cooper Union Foundation Building, New York City

2.3



The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly known as Cooper Union or The Cooper Union and informally referred to, especially during the 19th century, as 'the Cooper Institute,' is a private college at Cooper Square on the border of the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Inspired in 1830 when Peter Cooper learned about the government-supported École Polytechnique in France, Cooper Union was established in 1859. The school was built on a radical new model of American higher education based on founder Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that an education "equal to the best technology schools [then] established" should be accessible to those who qualify, independent of their race, religion, sex, wealth or social status, and should be "open and free to all."
Cooper envisioned his school replacing the declining master/apprentice system with a higher form of education suited to a new age. "Machinery has, in a great measure, driven out the old trades, and the discipline of the old apprentice system has passed away. Our youth in the industrial classes begin life under very different auspices." The situation was particularly dire for girls who rarely had the advantage of apprenticeship and were easily exploited by their employers, and for "young women of refinement and general culture” thrown upon their own resources by "the peculiar conditions and characteristics of American life." "All I want," Cooper was remembered often saying, "is that these poor women shall earn decent and respectable livings, and especially that they shall be kept from marrying bad husbands." True to his ideals, the institute's night school was open to boys and girls, and in 1858, a year before the Cooper Union officially opened, the New York School of Design for Women was moved into the building.
The Cooper Union originally offered free courses to its admitted students, and when a 4-year undergraduate program was established in 1902, the school granted each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship. Following its own financial crisis, the school decided to abandon this policy starting in the Fall of 2014. Each incoming student receives at least a half-tuition merit scholarship, with additional school financial support, which is provided on a sliding scale up to full tuition scholarships (for which a significant number of students qualify), based on financial needs. A consent decree brokered by the New York Attorney General in New York Supreme Court, and finalized in 2015, required the establishment of a Free Education Committee with the responsibility to present a strategic plan to allow the school to return to a sustainable tuition-free model. In March 2018, the board released their recommended plan to reinstate full-tuition scholarships only for undergraduates by the 2028–2029 academic year.


The college is divided into three schools: the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, the School of Art, and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. It offers undergraduate and master's degree programs exclusively in the fields of architecture, fine arts (undergraduate only), and engineering. It is a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). For 2020, Cooper Union was ranked number one in the Regional Colleges (North) category and number one in "Best Value School" category by U.S. News & World Report. Following the resignation of Jamshed Bharucha in 2015, William Mea served as the college's Acting President until January 2017 when Laura Sparks became the 13th president.


Until 2014, Cooper Union was one of the very few American institutions of higher learning to offer a full-tuition scholarship – valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012 – to every admitted student. Cooper Union has historically been one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate that was typically below 10% prior to 2014. In part due to its 9% acceptance rate for the 2010 Fall incoming class, Cooper Union was named by Newsweek as the "#1 Most Desirable Small School" and "#7 Most Desirable School" overall.
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  • Copper Union Foundation Building is one of Manhattan’s examples of modernist architectural. The architecture itself is unmistakable and its historical reputation is long-standing.  more »
  • This Italianate Brownstone Building was erected by a self made man, Peter Cooper. It was the first building in NYC to be erected using Rolled Iron I Beams which were invented by Peter Cooper. Iron.....  more »

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