important info from a faculty member on the endowments and the board

Save Cooper Now October 30, 2011

The information we received tonight from President Bharucha is that the institution is losing 16.5 million a year and has been for a long time. They have gone back as far as the 1960s but recently discovered more documents they have yet to read. He also showed us a chart with a steep downward slide that shows the unrestricted endowment ($50 million) will run out in two years.

There are two kinds of endowments, one can be used to pay our bills, the other kind is restricted to specific programs and can not be spent on anything but those programs. (The Katz chair in painting for example, that money can only be spent on the chair, not on paying our bills.)

My understanding is that we have 70 million in the restricted endowment, and 50 million in unrestricted.

President Bharucha mentioned that Cooper Union survived all these years by selling assets (property) or because Cooper did well in the stock market. He added that we have no assets left to sell and that the stock market has yet to come back.

When asked about how much we would charge if we did charge tuition, President Bharucha said they would have to work on a model for that with “Enrollment Management” consultants. He described a tuition model that is need based, merit based, and would remain free for many students. But those who could pay something would pay something. He never said “yes we are going to charge tuition” but he did say that the “likely emerging roadmap” is to alter our full-scholarship model.

When asked about alternatives to charging tuition he mentioned government grants, but it was also discussed that grants require an investment of more money, and a few years, in order to generate any money that would make a difference in the short term.

The President was asked about the fact that trustees do not pay to be on the board and the President said that was a matter for the board. When we discussed the fact that the blame for this was with the board, and that trustees should start writing checks to get us out of it, the president told us again to bring it to the board. It was discussed that institutions like the Met or MoMA trustees pay between 1 to 10 million to join the board. President Bharucha countered that institutions like that spend money courting big name trustees.

One thing President Bharucha continued to stress is that large donors will not donate to the school without a plan to get out of the current situation. He relayed a story about how one donor told him this directly. But he also said that because of social media and Facebook that we can talk about it. In this Daily News story TC is quoted as saying to the owners of St. Marks Books that Cooper Union is “broke.”

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