An Idea of Emotion – Gratitude to Our Education


Six months ago, when I was trying to make a decision on selecting the architecture school for graduate study, I chose the Cooper Union, an renowned institution with a vision of providing its whole student body full scholarship for higher education. I have always been grateful to the education that I have received since I was a little child. Having the opportunity to learn is the second most important thing in my life. Education is not free and we should not take it for granted. Even when our parents were teaching me to speak my first word, they were working hard in their jobs in order to make a living for our family. Therefore, we should be grateful to the high quality free education that we have at the Cooper Union.

The recent announcement about the school’s substantial deficit and the possibility of charging students tuition should not surprise anyone. We are living in a time that the global economy condition is at risk and nobody wants to take the responsibility of working out the problems. Before the academy year started, I already asked myself how was it possible for the Cooper Union to remain tuition free? President Bharucha had mentioned that charging tuition will be the last resource to save the school from the annual $26 million dollar deficit. Chairman of the board of Trustees Mr. Mark Epstein had pointed out that the “problem is a systemic deficit, nobody, no one person’s fault… we made an investment in a lot of students that are now alumni, and only 20% of them donate back to the school so I think that is a failed investment as far as that’s’ concerned for development.” Whether his address is true or false, we should be first feel grateful to what we have been granted.  Our gratitude to Mr. Cooper and his family, as well as our gratitude to all related people who made CU great and possible should be the foundation for us to maintain a school-wide unity with good spirit. This unity should be built by students, faculty, administrative staff, alumni and trustees. Our energy and discussion should be focused on how to face the situation and solve the problem. As a member of the Cooper Union, below are some of the ideas that came across my mind:

  1. Provide more continuing education courses for the public in summer and winter breaks.
  2. Develop a system that helps students (both undergraduate and graduate) to find internships and require them to contribute a certain percent of their internship income to the school.
  3. The eight floor lounge of the foundation building should be rent out as a café.
  4. Further enhance the connection with our alumni. Financial information should be more transparent so that our alumni can know the needs of our school.
  5. Develop an outreach teaching program which the senior CU students can teach in high schools during weekends, summer or winter breaks. This program can help preparing prospective high school students in the field of arts, architecture and engineering. In this case, senior students can gain teaching experience as well as income. Their partial income should be also donated to CU for its own sustainable development.

As part of the Cooper Union community, feeling grateful is the first step toward helping our school going through this difficult time. We, the former and current students of the institution, who were all selected based on merit, shall act as one living body to carry on Mr. Cooper’s trust and belief: “I trust that the students of this institution will do something to bear back the mighty torrent of evils now pressing on the world. I trust that here they will learn to overcome the evils of life with kindness and affection. I trust that here they will find that all true greatness consists in using all the powers they possess to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them; and in this way to become really great by becoming the servant of all”. CU students should serve our institution with heartfelt gratitude so that we can contribute and continue the institution to provide high quality free education to the future generations.