The Alumni Awards 10:00am – 1:00pm
Each year, the Cooper Union Alumni Association selects the recipients of the prestigious Alumni Awards. The awards will honor alumni achievements in the fields of Art, Architecture, and Engineering, as well as The Alumni Service Awards, and The Peter Cooper Award for Public Service.

Livestream: http://www.livestream.com/cooperfoundersday2014

We are pleased to announce the alumni awardees for 2014

The Alumnus of the Year

Sean Cusack BSE ’98

The Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award

Julian LaVerdiere A ’93

Augusta Savage A ’25 posthumous

The Gano Dunn Award

Jay Moskowitz PHY ’70

The John Q. Hejduk Award

Leslie Gill AR ’82

The Peter Cooper Public Service Awards

Patricia Buckley Moss A ’55

Special Recognition for extraordinary service

Barry Drogin EE ’83 / MEE ’86

Michael Borkowsky ME ’61

Jeffrey Gural

The Young Alumni of the Year

Alexis Lenza CE ’05

Henry Chapman A ’10

Victoria Sobel A ’13

The Alumnus of the Year

The Alumnus of the Year Award is presented to outstanding alumni for their longstanding dedication and commitment to the Alumni Association and The Cooper Union.

Sean Cusak

Sean Cusack BSE ’98

Sean Cusack graduated from The Cooper Union in 1998 with a BSE degree. He has worked on software infrastructure for 15 years at Bloomberg LP, Merrill Lynch, and Jefferies & Co. At Cooper, he wears many hats. He currently serves as a council member of the Cooper Union Alumni Association and is Co-Chair of the Communications Committee. As a member of the “Gang of Six” he helped found the advocacy group known as The Friends of Cooper Union. For The Cooper Union, Sean has served as an adjunct professor since 2003 teaching the “Introduction to Computer Science” course. In addition, in 2012, he taught a course open to all three schools on Web and App development and project management, and in the summer of 2012, he organized “Cooper App Camp”, a workshop open to both students and alumni. Together with a number of students and faculty, Sean also started the Cooper Union Entrepreneurship Society.

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Sean is a strong proponent for a free Cooper Union and is inspired by the notion of the school being, in the words of The Cooper Union graduating class of 1871, an “everlasting protest against that avarice and ambition which rear overshadowing fortunes for mere personal gratification.” Communication is the key to the strength of any organization, and Sean is being recognized for his efforts to make information accessible and available, which has helped grow and build our Cooper Union community over the past few years.

In the fall of 2011, accepting President Bharucha’s challenge to form a taskforce for solutions to the tuition crisis, Sean initiated CooperUnionTaskForce.com, a resource to share information, news, and research on what was happening at Cooper Union. The site’s landing page continues to be the host for recordings of important Cooper Union events and forums, which Sean was often livestreaming and live-tweeting. As an active member of Friends of Cooper Union, he helped to bring the various stakeholder groups of the Cooper Union community together. As Co-Chair of the Communications Committee, Sean administers social media for the organization, and writes articles articles for the CU Alumni Newsletter and website. Going forward, Sean is filled with many exciting ideas for enhancing the CUAA website. He extends a warm invite for more contributors to the Newsletter and ideas on how we can build a stronger community.

For three years, Sean worked as a scoutmaster with children at the Icahn House West homeless shelter. His experiences with these kids got him thinking about how to create fun learning environments for different grade levels. Combining his passions of teaching, programming and video games, Sean started Learnosaurus, Inc., a service that will convert grade level K–5 homework into educational games. A crowd-funding video of the project featuring a puppet show will be launched at the Founder's Day Street Fair in April.

Photo Credit: Stephen Tang BSE’98

The Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award

The Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art is presented annually to a graduate (or graduates) of the School of Art. Established in 1962, the award is named in honor of one of the most distinguished alumni of the school, who was admitted to The Cooper Union in 1861 at the age of 13.

Julian LaVerdiere

Julian LaVerdiere A ’93

Julian is a Production Designer and Artist. He received a BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art in 1993 and a MFA from the Yale Graduate School of Art, Sculpture Program in 1995. LaVerdiere has exhibited his art publicly in galleries and museums including; Andrew Kreps Gallery, Deitch Projects, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, PS1/ MOMA, The MOCA-Miami, MOCA- Cleveland, The Tang Museum, The Queens Museum of Art, The U.S. Library of Congress, and The United Nations General Assembly Hall.

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In 1996, LaVerdiere co-founded a design company to conceive and engineer elaborate, environments, sets and special effects for print advertising, public events, commercial television and feature films. In September 2001, LaVerdiere and fellow artist Paul Myoda collaborated with a team of architects, public art organizations including Creative Time and The Municipal Arts Society and The New York City Mayor’s Office, to create The Tribute in Light. The Tribute in Light has become an annual light memorial honoring the victims of the World Trade Center collapse.

Julian received a Cooper Union Urban Visionary Award in 2002 and was inducted into the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame. In the same year, he was also elected to the Alumni Council, and serves on the School of Art’s Curriculum Committee. In 2010 LaVerdiere was invited by the National Capital Planning Commission to speak at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington, DC about Global approaches to Public Art. Julian designed the cover for Time magazine’s 9/11 commemorative issue in June 2011 and served as an art director on Sasha Barron Cohen's Paramount Feature film “The Dictator”

In 2014 Julian’s sculptures will be seen incorporated in “THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2” a Columbia Pictures release due out in May. The Tang Museum of Art is now exhibiting his sculptures in “One Work”, on view from January 25–June 1, 2014. His sculpture is currently on exhibit in “FOUNTAINS OF THE DEEP” a group show curated by Darren Aronofsky and Dominic Teja Sidhu in conjunction with the Paramount feature film “NOAH”. The exhibit is now on view at 462 West Broadway.

Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage A ’25 posthumous

2/29/1892 – 3/26/1962

Augusta Savage was a pioneering African American female artist whose work as a sculptor and educator made her a luminary of the Harlem Renaissance. She is best known for her sculpture called “The Harp”, based on James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was shown at the New York 1939 Worlds Fair.

Her works are shown in the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Yale University, Howard University, Hampton University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the DuSable Museum of African-American History, as well as in private collections.

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Her achievements include founding the Savage School of Arts and Crafts, being the first African American elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, a supervisor of artists for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Arts Project, and the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center.

She was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida February 2, 1892. She moved to New York City in the 1920s and studied art at the Cooper Union from 1922 to 1925.

During the 1920s, she became known as a portrait sculptor. Her works from this time include portraits of leading African Americans, W. E. B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey. Augusta won a Julius Rosenwald fellowship in 1929, based in part on her sculpture of her nephew, titled Gamin. The fellowship allowed her to study in Paris, where she exhibited at the Grand Palais and won a second fellowship to continue her studies abroad for another year.

In 1932, Augusta returned to the United States and established a studio, located in Harlem called the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts. The studio was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation and provided arts education to several African American Artists including Jacob Lawrence and Norman Lewis. She later became the first director of the Harlem Community Arts Center. Augusta was commissioned to create a sculpture for the 1939 New York World's Fair that represented the musical contributions of African Americans. The final work, titled "The Harp", incorporated singing African American Figures that symbolized the strings of a harp. In 1940, Augusta moved out of New York City to live the Catskill Mountains area. In 1988, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, presented a retrospective of Augusta’s work, and In 1999, PBS featured her in the show ''I'll Make Me a World: A Century of African-American Arts” in the segment ''I Make Me a World: Bright Like a sun’'.

Her sculpture, “Gamin”, is in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art and her sculpture “The Diving Boy” c. 1939 is housed by The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.

The Gano Dunn Award

The Gano Dunn Award for professional achievement in engineering, industry, science or finance is presented annually to a graduate of The Albert Nerken School of Engineering. Established in 1955, the award is named for Gano Dunn, who devoted a quarter century of service to The Cooper Union as a Trustee and 15 years as President of the institution.

Jay Moskowitz

Jay Moskowitz PHY ’70

Jay Moskowitz is an inventor and entrepreneur. He founded and led SPD Control Systems, RTS Wireless, RTS Electronics, Real Time Strategies, Peerless Wind Systems, On Networks, Wireless Marvels and Intersystems Software. He has more than 35 years of experience in the communications industry with a specialty in wireless communications. For the last 8 years he has focused on projects related to sustainable energy. Jay holds 10 patents in the US, Japan and Europe.

Prior to forming his own companies, Mr. Moskowitz was SVP of Engineering for a manufacturer of Radio Paging, Voice Mail, Telephone Answering and Cellular Telephone central office equipment. Earlier in his career, he was a system designer with NASA developing a simulator to train astronauts.

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He was one of the first inventors to bring the Internet to wireless devices (email, web messaging and browsing), initially to radio pagers and then to mobile telephones. As a teenager interested in entering nuclear chemistry, he won 3 New York City science fairs and summer research grants, but moved to telecom upon graduating from Cooper Union. Among his many inventions were a Blackberry type of message communicator (listed in the Guinness Book of records as the world's smallest fax machine), a Siri-like system for sending text messages to wireless devices, transmission of movies over laser beams, a stock market ticker system for the home, nationwide wireless communications before it ever existed, a ship navigation systems using pre-GPS technology, a handprint security system, an FM radio built into a golf ball for the US Open, a garage door that tweets if left open, and is now working in the technology of electronically tintable windows to reduce or take advantage of solar heat and potentially save 30+% of energy used in buildings (currently offered in the Mercedes-Benz under the name Magic Sky Control), working in wind energy creating low cost Vertical Axis Wind Turbines and a patent-pending electric generator, as well as working with a team to develop a system to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere.

He is a senior member of the IEEE, a recognized leader in the radio paging industry chairing several committees and created many telecom protocols used to enable Wireless Instant Messaging and other capabilities for AOL, Motorola and the wireless community at large. Jay has mentored numerous engineers, software designers and software developers and assisted startup organizations wishing to introduce their own inventions into the marketplace.

More information is available at his company web site www.spdControlSystems.com

The John Q. Hejduk Award

The John Q. Hejduk Award, established in 2003, is given to a graduate of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture who has made an outstanding contribution to the theory, teaching and/or practice of architecture. The recipient reflects the passion and commitment that John Hejduk, Cooper Union faculty member from 1964-2000 and Dean of the School of Architecture from 1975-2000, had for architecture.

Leslie Gill

Leslie Gill AR ’82

Leslie Gill has been a principal in her own practice since her graduation from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in New York in 1982. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University for over 20 years and a Visiting Critic at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Parsons School of Design and Cornell University. She served as an External Examiner at the Architectural Association in London and has been a board member for the Cooper Union. She is a founding trustee of the Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture, and is currently on the board of the Architectural League of New York. She served as co-chair of the Chrysler Design Awards from 1998 to 2004, a program dedicated to recognizing outstanding innovation.

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Ideologically, her practice shies away from the current trend toward specialization. Instead, it is dedicated to architecture as a synergistic melding of disciplines — art, engineering, and construction always mindful that architecture is a lived-in medium. The firm has received numerous national and international design awards, including awards sponsored by The Architectural League of New York, The American Institute of Architects, Architecture Magazine and Architectural Record. She has twice been named a fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts and has received a variety of grants and prizes for her work, including a Citation of Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Architecture from The Cooper Union.

The Peter Cooper Public Service Award

The Peter Cooper Public Service Award is presented annually to a graduate of The Cooper Union who best exemplifies Peter Cooper’s life of service to the public. This award was established in 2014.

Patricia Buckley Moss

Patricia Buckley Moss A ’55

Patricia Buckley Moss graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1955 with a specialization in fine arts and graphic design. At The Cooper Union, Pat was encouraged to seek a more personal expression of her ideas through her art. Intense study and discussions with professors and fellow students expanded Pat’s artistic horizons and gave birth to her unique style, freely expressive and often rich in religious symbolism.

Patricia Buckley was born in 1933 in New York City. Patricia was dyslexic and had academic difficulties until she was enrolled at the Washington Irving High School for the Fine Arts. She states, “Very early in life, when I failed at everything else in school, my art became my solace. What challenges I faced academically did not exist with my art endeavors; whereas, some people succeed in spite of a disability, I believe I thrive because of mine. Now, with recognition and success, I reach out in my charitable endeavors to help others through my art, especially those with learning differences.”

Ms. Moss was selected by the award committee because of her lifelong commitment to philanthropy and charitable giving. The fact that she has directly followed in Peter Cooper’s footsteps by focusing on education and has inspired others to do so as well is a fitting way to recognize our Inaugural Peter Cooper Public Service Awardee.

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In the tradition of Peter Cooper, Ms. Moss’ success has been funneled into helping others. Donations of P. Buckley Moss’ art have raised over four million dollars for worthy charities. The P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education is devoted to promoting the use of art in the classroom, especially as a means to teach children with learning differences.

In 1987, the P. Buckley Moss Society was established by a few enthusiastic collectors to assist the artist in her charitable endeavors. This Society has grown to include 26 active chapters with membership exceeding 8,000 members. P. Buckley Moss is both the Society’s inspiration and its “battle cry” as it spreads the artist’s messages of concern and optimism for what might otherwise be forgotten and misunderstood children and adults.

In 1995 the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education was formed to help children with learning differences to succeed in school and in life. The Foundation encourages the integration of the visual and performing arts throughout all educational programs but especially those involving children who learn differently. The Foundation hosts an annual teachers’ conference, a forum for sharing cutting edge methods of art-based education. The Foundation provides annual teacher grants, sponsors an annual Summer Art Enrichment Program for children aged 4–11, and administers three annual college student scholarships.

Ms. Moss currently lives in Virginia, dividing her time between the Chesapeake Bay and the southwestern section of the state. Many of her works are displayed permanently at P. Buckley Moss galleries throughout the state. Her museum attracts approximately 45,000 visitors per year. Pat Moss’ story is told and illustrated over and over in the Museum’s main gallery, as visitors are exposed to some of the best examples of her artistic creativity. Ms. Moss has become a role model for those who learn differently and is frequently asked to speak at schools and children-focused organizations nationwide.

Special Recognition for extraordinary service to the Cooper Union and its alumni

On behalf of the Council of the Alumni Association, the Executive Committee has voted to recognize the following individuals with an award of Special Recognition for extraordinary service to the Cooper Union and its alumni. This award is an expression of the Cooper Union Alumni Association’s deep appreciation for these individuals’ work in reminding all of us of Cooper’s heritage, presence and promise in the world and our responsibility as its stewards.

Barry Drogin

Barry Drogin EE ’83 / MEE ’86

I have the best job in New York City, Director of Non-Destructive Testing & Evaluation for SUPERSTRUCTURES Engineers+Architects, the city’s leading building preservation and restoration firm. I get to teach, design new devices, perform field work, manage projects and engineers, interface with clients, and create proposals and reports, a summation and culmination of my career in engineering: four years as a college professor, eight years as a design engineer, five years as a project manager, five years as an engineering consultant, and over eight years as an engineering manager, working in fields as diverse as medical and aviation products, infrastructure, and education, for companies of all sizes as well as government agencies, technical schools, and colleges.

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Although my service to The Cooper Union dates back to my days as a student reporter on the school newspaper, I am being honored for my recent service as publisher, editor, and reporter for the virtual newspaper, The Alumni Pioneer, and for my work with Friends of Cooper Union (FOCU) and Free Cooper Union (FCU), all formed in response to the Cooper Union financial crisis. The Alumni Pioneer stretched the boundaries of the on-line medium, with breaking news stories, investigative reporting, webcomics, photo essays, informational videos, music videos, and infographics, hyperlink lists, and, most significantly, over three dozen analyses covering every aspect of the crisis. This included the fiduciary timeline used at FOCU break-out sessions and videos used by FCU to educate and inspire new students. I extended The Alumni Pioneer's reach to LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, and acted as a primary source and/or contributor to The Villager, The Village Voice, The New York Times, NPR, and Inside Higher Ed.

Although The Alumni Pioneer was my primary mechanism for communicating with the dispersed alumni population, my service extends beyond the Internet. At FOCU’s first Community Summit, my financial presentation, a multi-media show, silenced the twitter feeds (the school newspaper called it “riveting”). I provided the timeline for FOCU’s The Way Forward, the first community-authored set of proposals in response to the crisis, and helped with its financial calculations. Later, I worked with FCU and Cooper trustees Mike Borkowsky and Jeff Gural to negotiate an agreement to form the Working Group that I was subsequently elected to. The Working Group presented a second community-authored set of proposals. Finally, I am being given an award, but have to write this, my own bio. The spectacularly long run-on sentences must all be blamed on me.

From the first Engineering Student Council meeting where the crisis was announced, the second Community Summit where FOCU’s The Way Forward was released, to the FCU forums, Board meetings, and Council meetings where the Working Group Report was presented, as well as countless other Cooper events, forums, teleconferences, and meetings, I was there, patiently explaining one-on-one to the least informed, strategizing with leaders, fact-checking, challenging, and informing the entire community. The current Board and administration have rejected the Cooper Community’s desire to preserve the mission of The Cooper Union, claiming that the 150-year history of the college is “unsustainable” and that a “fundamental structural change” is required. Thanks to my work with the Cooper Community, The Alumni Pioneer, The Way Forward, and the Working Group Report remain as visions of how a community can come together against the rising cost of higher education and mounting student debt while preserving Peter Cooper’s vow to provide educational services “equal to the best” that are “open and free to all”.

-Barry Drogin (a.k.a. Baruch Skeer)

Michael Borkowsky

Michael Borkowsky ME ’61

Michael Borkowsky has over fifty years of service and dedication to the Cooper Union, starting with the $25 he gave to Cooper as soon as he was out of graduate school and working. He first joined the then “Board of Governors” of the Alumni Association in 1965, and ultimately became its president in 1991. He was an Alumni Representative on the Board of Trustees and then served as a regular member; completing his term as the second-longest serving member in 2013. He has often remarked that he has known seven of Cooper Union’s twelve Presidents and worked closely with five of them. The Alumni Association recognized him as its Alumnus of the Year in 1996.

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In the summer of 2013, with trustee Jeffrey Gural, he brokered the agreement between the Students and the Board of Trustees to end the Student Occupation of the President’s Office and form the Working Group to propose alternative strategies to establish financial sustainability while retaining Cooper Union’s unique heritage of academic excellence, merit-based admissions, and full-tuition scholarships for all admitted undergraduate students.

Jeff Gural

Jeffrey Gural

Trustee of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Chairman, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

Jeffrey Gural, the chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, is a highly respected community leader in New York City. He has been a member of the Cooper Union Board of Trustees since 2003.

In the summer of 2013, with trustee Michael Borkowsky ME’61, he brokered the agreement between the Students and the Board of Trustees to end the Student Occupation of the President’s Office and form the Working Group to propose alternative strategies to establish financial sustainability while retaining Cooper Union’s unique heritage of academic excellence, merit-based admissions, and full-tuition scholarships for all admitted undergraduate students.

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In 2013, he donated a million dollars to the Saturday Program at Cooper Union at the rate of $100,000 per year in order to allow the program to continue to thrive and restore some of the cuts that they had to make.

Jeff Gural also serves on the boards of directors of many businesses and charitable institutions. He is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Civil Engineering. He resides with his wife in New York City. They have three children and five grandchildren.

The Young Alumnus Award

The Young Alumnus Award was established in 2003 to recognize recent alumni who have provided exemplary volunteerism and public service to The Cooper Union Alumni Association.

In a transformative year, with so many extraordinary nominations for Young Alumnus, the Executive Committee voted to award the Young Alumnus Award to three alumni. These three awardees, each in their own way, have set a standard for all alumni and demonstrate exemplary volunteerism and public service to The Cooper Union and The Cooper Union Alumni Association.

Alexis Lenza

Alexis Lenza CE ’05

Alexis Lenza is a Senior Project Manager/Contracts Manager for SHoP Construction (SC) managing preconstruction services, estimating, procurement, logistics, contract negotiations, design coordination, budgets and scheduling. Over the past 3 years with SC, Alexis has been involved with managing projects ranging from multi-story design-build residential projects such as the 87 Dikeman Street project to full BIM-VDC integration workflows for Structural and MEP/FP systems for the 27-story City Point Phase 2 Tower-1 project. Alexis has also worked on the B2 Brooklyn Modular Housing project and is the Senior PM of the team driving SC’s prefabrication/modular initiatives. During her 6 years with Turner Construction Company prior to SC, Alexis served as a project manager on jobs such as the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and was responsible for administering design coordination, performing fabrication reviews, scheduling trades, negotiating change orders and managing subcontractor field activities. Alexis is a LEED accredited professional and has worked on several LEED certified projects.

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Alexis is a CUAA Council member and Co-Chair of the CUAA Events Committee. The committee has organized 10 to 15 casual alumni events per year under her leadership. She personally organized and hosted a construction tour of the Barclays Arena in 2012 and organized a CU Alumni Pop-Up event where alumni volunteered with the Hurricane Sandy Cleanup activities on Staten Island during the fall of 2012. During 2013, she hosted an alumni day trip to a local ski mountain, the CU @ PS1 event, and the CU@ Situ event. She was a speaker at the Welcome to the Graduating Class of 2012 On the Rooftop event at 41 Cooper Alumni Terrace and she was a panelist at the CU ASCE Student Event this past fall.

Henry Chapman

Henry Chapman A ’10

Henry Chapman is an artist whose work has shown at Recess Activities, Inc., Vermont Studio Center, AMO Studios, and the Yale School of Art, where he currently studies painting.

In 2011, he cofounded Friends of Cooper Union to protest tuition and to advocate alternative solutions. The group organized summits, held regular public meetings, and published petitions, letters, and proposals from the community. In 2012, the group published “The Way Forward”, a 30-page collection of community initiatives that envisioned a viable free future for Cooper Union. Last year, the group fought to elect alumni trustee Kevin Slavin and CUAA president John Leeper in an effort to reinvent Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees.

Victoria Sobel

Victoria Sobel A ’13

Victoria Sobel is a 23-year-old artist and activist originally from Maryland, currently based in New York City. A graduate of the School of Art, class of 2013, Victoria has focused most of her energies on student advocacy and student and educators rights campaigns. She is passionate about furthering the ideals of access in education, conceiving new alternative educational models, teaching the intersectionality of struggles, and promoting open source and new media alternatives for activists and frontline communities. Her work consists largely of happenings, actions, interventions and publications. Victoria continues to work in constellation with the Cooper community via the Free Cooper Union campaign; she is also a member of the Global Revolution Media collective, known best for providing real-time media surrounding global uprisings.

In 2013, Victoria Sobel was elected and served as the Alumni Association’s Art Representative on The Working Group to propose alternative strategies to establish financial sustainability while retaining Cooper Union’s unique heritage of academic excellence, merit-based admissions, and full-tuition scholarships for all admitted undergraduate students.