New York Attorney General Investigating Cooper Union

Cooper Union's New Academic Building, which opened in 2009. DREW DIES

Cooper Union’s New Academic Building, which opened in 2009.


New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is launching an investigation into the financial practices leading up to the controversial 2014 decision to start charging undergraduate tuition for the first time in the institution’s history, The Wall Street Journal reports today.

According to the story, a major part of the investigation hinges on the school’s management of the land underneath the Chrysler Building, a key asset acquired in 1902 as a gift from the family of Peter Cooper, the institution’s founder. In 2006, the school took out a $175 million fixed-rate loan with the building as collateral, and used the money to build over $100 million worth of new Greenwich Village facilities.

The investigation will also likely address whether Cooper Union should be charging tuition, a subject that sparked a lawsuit (and subsequent motion for dismissal by Cooper Union) by a student and professor to the New York State Supreme Court.

Additionally, the office is reviewing the terms of the lease agreement at the Chrysler Building with real-estate company Tishman Speyer, possible inaccuracies in regards to the board’s financial decisions on the school’s website, and a board-approved bonus for former President George Campbell Jr.

Campbell Jr., who in addition to defending his bonus, remained steadfast in his opposition to the school’s newfound undergrad tuition. He had this to say: “The college still has assets, and it’s a good time to think about selling those. The Chrysler Building is an enormous asset, and it can be converted into cash.”

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