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Free Cooper Union Leaks “Board Presentation” Suggesting Art Dept Is in Trouble

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Title slide from a “leaked board presentation” released today by Free Cooper Union

Free Cooper Union has released the first installment of what they allege will be a two-week long period marked by the daily publication of “anonymously leaked confidential documents” from the university’s administration. The inaugural item is claimed to be a presentation of the “Trustee Reinvention Committee,” dated February 12, 2013. The 14 slides of the purported Powerpoint presentation appear to have been scanned from a printed copy; Hyperallergic was told yesterday that this document arrived in an anonymous email, today Free Cooper representatives declined to specify the medium in which the document was received.

If authentic, the presentation could prove problematic for Cooper Union’s embattled administration, as it reveals a remarkably aggressive strategic vision for the school, including a renewed focus on computer science and engineering and “phas[ing] out current fine arts program” in favor of a Design School. The document also mentions “50% tuition” as an inevitability two months before the school publicly announced the matter in April. But it’s all a little too perfect — the presentation’s hyperbolic language even reads at times like a satirist’s parroting of insipid MBA jargon: “next level,” “poised,” “thought leaders,” “seize on opportunities afforded by a fast changing world,” “partner with … TED.” And even if these are authentic ruminations, they probably only represent the views of the committee authoring the presentation, not the final word of the board itself.

At any rate, we’ve reached out to Cooper Union for comment and will update this post as needed. But the kicker for the Free Cooper Union press release announcing this leak may offer a clue: “In celebration of open flows of information, on November 24th from 6 to 9pm, students will be performing a second reading of the Board transcript leaked this summer by the Village Voice at e-flux, 311 East Broadway, New York.”

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“The Dream Scenario, Trustee Reinvention Committee, February 12, 2013” has been posted in full on the Free Cooper Union Facebook page.

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