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A banner hung by students from the Cooper Union Foundation Building during a student occupation of the building’s historic clock tower in December 2012 (photo by Free Cooper Union)

On Wednesday evening, a day after five of his staunchest supporters on the Cooper Union’s board of trustees resigned, the college’s embattled president Jamshed Bharucha announced that he will resign at the end of June. As of July 1 he will be the school’s president emeritus.

In an email titled “Presidential Transition” that was sent to all members of the Cooper Union community, Bharucha defended the controversial decision to begin charging the art, architecture, and engineering students tuition, which was the defining decision of his four years on the job. Beginning in the fall he will serve as a visiting scholar in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

“The class completing its freshman year was the first to be admitted under the 2013 Financial Sustainability Plan, and the class just admitted will be the second,” Bharucha wrote in his resignation letter. “These two classes uphold Cooper’s unparalleled standard of excellence. With need-based financial aid, we have also been able to increase access to those who can least afford it, as shown by an increase in the proportion of students eligible for Federal Pell Grants.”

Outgoing Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Bharucha’s tenure as Cooper Union president, which began almost exactly four years ago on July 1, 2011, was marked by student protests and occupationsdisputes between the school’s faculty, administration, students, alumni, and prospective studentslawsuits; and, most recently, an investigation by the office of the New York State Attorney General into the college’s finances. In April the school’s board of trustees offered not to renew Bharucha’s contract if New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would call off his investigation. It’s too early to say whether or not Bharucha’s resignation will have such an impact.

Cooper Union’s 19 remaining trustees released the following statement, which accompanied Bharucha’s resignation email:

The Board of Trustees is grateful to Jamshed Bharucha for his service as the 12th President of Cooper Union.

The financial exigencies with which he was confronted upon his arrival were not of his making and he deserves credit for sounding the alarm about the need to take urgent action to ensure Cooper Union’s long-term financial sustainability.

We wish President Bharucha all the best in his future endeavors, and have agreed to name him President Emeritus effective July 1, 2015.

On July 1, William Mea, the school’s current vice president for finance and administration, will take over as interim president. A presidential search committee that will include current students, alumni, and faculty members will be formed in the fall to look for Bharucha’s successor.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

One reply on “After Years of Controversy, Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha Resigns”

  1. I hope that regardless of these resignations, Schneiderman will continue his investigation of the people and activities which led to the near destruction of Cooper Union. Perhaps some lawsuits are in order as well.

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