Latest leak shows Board pursued School of Art shutdown extensively.
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Students are using signs to keep the pressure on Cooper Union officials.
Photo: Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal.

Pick up a copy of today’s Wall Street Journal and flip to page A17 for a feature on the “Cooper Union Tuition Tussle.” And note that as of today, Jamshed Bharucha has not entered the President’s office on the 7th floor of the Foundation Building for 203 days, preferring to “lead” Cooper Union from the privacy of his college-owned townhouse several blocks away from campus.

[ Read the full WSJ story. ]

A correction, in the form of a leak.


Contrary to newly hired VP of Communications Justin Harmon’s statement published today in the Wall Street Journal that “the board never pursued a suggestion to close the art school,” an additional document leaked this morning by Free Cooper Union shows that by March 2013 the Board had so deeply pursued closure of the School of Art that a secret motion to revive the admissions process was necessary.

* * *


Four years ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article with the more chipper title, “One College Sidesteps the Crisis: As Many Endowments Suffer, No-Tuition Cooper Union Builds, and Basks.” John Michaelson, chair of Cooper’s investment committee, posed with former President George Campbell in the still-under-construction New Academic Building. Their conversation with the Journal consisted of lies (or more generously half-truths) about the strength of Cooper’s endowment  — and even included some trashing of “the Yale model” of investing, for good measure. A May 2013 New York Times article told a strikingly different story: criticizing Cooper’s board as both “irresponsible” and having made “a long series of what look like bad decisions.”


The Journal article has since come to symbolize exactly what’s wrong with Cooper’s administration: quietly and forcefully pursuing an expansionist agenda while lying to the public about the risks of their bad decision-making. Unbelievably, leaked documents confirm that Michaelson still heads Cooper’s investment committee, over four years later.


Many would like to believe that things have changed, but as the last two weeks’ documents demonstrate, Bharucha’s administration has become even more calculated and coercive. Newly hired Vice President of Administrative Bloat Communications Justin Harmon started what may have been his first day on the job by lying — again — to the Wall Street Journal:

Earlier this month, Free Cooper Union launched its "Two Weeks of Leaks" campaign, posting information on a Facebook page. Among the documents is a slide show that the group says is from a committee of trustees with an idea to phase out the school's fine arts programming and launch a computer science major.


Justin Harmon, a spokesman for Cooper Union, said "the board never pursued a suggestion to close the art school. Rather than make an unrewarding attempt to parse history, we must focus on meeting the challenges we face in order to support and sustain The Cooper Union."

Harmon’s statement is not only a deflection, but an outright lie. On Sunday, Free Cooper Union performed a dramatic reading of a private Board of Trustees meeting leaked by the Village Voice, dated September 2012. In the transcript, Jamshed Bharucha (JB) states that closure “on a school-by-school basis” is both “a prevalent tactic” and “a real option.”

In February 2013, the faculty of the School of Art issued a letter rejecting tuition, stating that Bharucha’s Reinvention process was “subtly coercive.” Just over a week after the letter was circulated, “closure as a tactic” came definitively into play.


Never before seen minutes from a February 9th teleconference between members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees indicate that it was Jamshed Bharucha himself who recommended deferring the entire class of early decision applicants to the School of Art. Under threat — it was rumored — of closure, the faculty of the School of Art capitulated to Bharucha’s demand that they submit the revenue-generating plans which had previously been withheld and denounced. Within minutes of receiving the vote, Bharucha made public the revenue-generating proposals and sent around a pre-written press release celebrating the support of all three faculties.


Additional leaked minutes from a March 2013 Board Meeting show “a motion then proceed with admitting a class in the School of Art for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Free Cooper Union promised just two weeks of leaks (which have come to a close and are listed below in sequence), but the dirt goes on. Confidential documents such as these demonstrate that Jamshed Bharucha and the Cooper Union Board of Trustees have a complete disregard for the trust of the Cooper community, the integrity of the press, and the intelligence of the general public. If Cooper Union’s new Communications department intends to continue their tradition of lying to the mainstream media, Free Cooper Union will stand by to continue supplementing lies with leaks.
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#TwoWeeksOfLeaks in review:


Day 1: The Dream Scenario

Day 2: How to serve the President his niçoise

Day 3: Assistant directors of blahblahblah

Day 4: Reinvention Media Strategy

Day 5: Accountability?!

Day 6: Reinvention 10 Year Roadmap

Day 7: Bharucha's annotated disciplinary guide

Day 8: Bharucha's tuition research

Day 9: "A sense of betrayal" amongst the Board

Day 10: Board pulls $1.4 mil out of thin air for...more consultants

Day 11: Development department blames the students: "a sense of entitlement rather than gratitude"

Day 12: Bharucha "Gets Inside Peter Cooper's Brain"

Day 13: Board meeting schedule

Day 14: We've Identified The Radicals

& Day 15: A rewarding attempt to parse history

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Copyright © 2013 Students for a Free Cooper Union, All rights reserved.

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