Five of Cooper Union’s trustees resigned yesterday, including Mark Epstein, the school’s chairman emeritus. This is according to CSCUFCSCU (The Committee to Save Cooper Union from the Committee to Save Cooper Union), which published three of the letters of resignation on its website.
During my term as Chairman we were able to put the school on a path to sustainability. It was going to be a difficult path with some hurdles to get over. We were on our way, but have now gotten so far off of that path due to the actions (or inactions) of the Board that I no longer want to participate. I know that there are some in the Cooper Community that will take my resignation as a false victory of some sort. I am not resigning due to any pressure from that group, rather that I no longer want to associate with them.
He goes on to say that he is “withdrawing my financial support for the college.”
Monica Vachher, another trustee who resigned, wrote:
As a fiduciary of Cooper Union, I began my board engagement with great enthusiasm and excitement about restoring the institution to a financially stable position, and renewing and burnishing the preeminence Cooper Union had historically enjoyed.
Regrettably, it has become clear that these fiduciary goals are not shared by many on the board, and that the board is unwilling to make or support often difficult decisions that would be in the long-term best interests of the institution.
Daniel Liebskind, another trustee, wrote in his resignation, “I do not support the leadership and direction of this Board. I believe that decisions being taken are not in the best interest of Cooper Union.”
Epstein was the person who announced in 2013 that the school would start charging tuition for the first time in its history, to much controversy among the institution’s students and in the press. In a 2013 article in Reuters, Felix Salmon wrote that Epstein “was intimately involved in most of Cooper Union’s worst decisions,” unlike the university’s president, Jamshed Bharucha, who “has shouldered much of the blame,” and whose tenure has been highly maligned. On Tuesday, Angus Johnson on the blog Student Activism described the five trustees who resigned as “some of the staunchest supporters of charging tuition.”
Cooper Union’s press office has not returned a request for comment, and attempts to reach the trustees have been unsuccessful.