November 18th, 2012
There will be no names in these notes. S denotes that a student said the following statement and F faculty
The topic discussions sent out before the conversation began were: Communication, The Hybrid Model, Curricular Changes, Relations Between the Schools, Faculty Concerns, Student Concerns, Fear / Intimidation, Responsibility-Centered Management, Tenure, Representation to the Board of Trustees
The discussion began around 4 PM and concluded around 6:30 PM
F Are all students opposed to any revenue generating programs?
S Fundamentally. But that’s because I’ve not heard of any other plans.
F It’s unclear whether faculty has to do this. Are we advising, recommending, devising?
F We don’t all agree.
F Do we have to agree to the programs in principle?
F We cannot represent all the faculty, in this meeting. There are already Revenue generating programs in place using off-times (evening and weekends) to support the magical, free world we live in. But the level has increased. Different programs like the outreach that is Continuing Education versus Post-Bac.
S Because of this reexamination, should Continuing Education be free in principle as well?
F We are not clients, there’s a social contract that is unique. I would go outside the institution to get funding if I could. The reality is that we’re in a crisis. Undergrad tuition is the worst case.
F Can that go too far? Like charging rent for non-academic programs vs academic programs. No, we wouldn’t charge rent for the non-academic programs.
S Why is the focus on masters and outreach programs? Are there other avenues? Do the admins want to change the school?
F The three schools aren’t on the same page. Principles that we are dealing with are the School of Art’s principles, not the institutional principles. Saturday School was, at one point, a student volunteer school, now it’s charged. Now it’s used for the advancement of the reputation of the school.
F Half the money that we need to come up with will be generated through fundraisers, a chunk comes from academic programs. That goes for the whole Cooper Union.
F Its not the faculty’s choice to use academic programs, that charge was sent to Saskia.
F It wasn’t sent to us. Saskia brought it to us.
F We have contracts with the institution, it includes some activities and doesn’t include others. Creating revenue generating programs isn’t in there. We can’t address academic excellence, but we can address extra programs and how they affect the school. There’s the idea of the responsibility. Whose is it?
S Responsibility Centered Management is sending responsibilities down. Blame and the future of the school are passed down, when bad decisions were made long ago.
F Dean and President can’t make masters programs, the faculty would object to any programs passed down from them. In that way, it’s a double edged sword.
F An interdisciplinary program would cut down paranoia and settle people down. My paranoia regarding this school is that we are more vulnerable because we’re not as professionalized. Our discourse is poetic and metaphorical, and that’s getting passed over. It’s the top-down idea, that reading and writing and arithmetic are what is focused on.
S What we do is not professionalized, so Grad school is not meant to help up get jobs. Like it is in some other schools. So tuition would hinder what we do here. Where is the boundary between undergrad and grad?
S Education we’re saving by including grad students, because of the issue of space, would not be worth saving. Because 20 graduate students in the shop 3 out of 4 days a week would make my education less.
F That has been addressed. Programs are trying to work around undergrad, like summer only programs. Full time faculty would teach the undergrad programs, but that would mean that they are not able to teach the undergrad. We are trying to keep intact what’s already in place.
S What about cutting back as opposed to adding?
F That hasn’t been addressed by the dean. Expense reduction? Haven’t said much about that.
F Classes being cut, fighting for techniques, less visiting artists.
S It seems like we’re not preparing for the smaller student body. New computer system, that doesn’t work, new people in 30 Cooper, new building, all that but we can’t save Cooper Union?
S Combination of painting/drawing? Is that where we’re trying to save money too?
F Some faculty may want to teach both. Visiting artists who do both could address both. Registration is hard to deal with in that respect. The Way Forward hasn’t really been on the table. We’re talking about pedagogy, not the Way Forward ideas, that’s not what we do. Upper administration hasn’t addressed them. Maybe they’re not interested in the mission of our school?
S Is the dean going to be presenting to the board?
S Dean and select faculty are presenting to the board through the president and other channels.
F There is faculty, deans, presidents, and outside consultants that were hired, and we have to challenge all their evaluations of our programs.
F We can’t talk about money at the meetings.
F The dean can and should.
F Sustainability has to do with risk. This school has always had a level of risk in it.
S How do you contain expansion? It’s the donut model where the middle, the undergrad, is a parasitic vortex.
F What would be a good firewall?
F Expansion gets funding, continued expansion. People don’t want to fund out of a deficit. They want to build a building.
S There is an irreverence for the structure (of the school). The faculty should be the firewall.
F Faculty is the curricular firewall. Not the financial firewall.
S The aim of one of the programs is very different from the BFA. It’s a program to increase employability.
F We’re brainstorming. Trying to find something that isn’t redundant. What do MFA programs offer? The MDP is a program for certain people who need another employment opportunity. It would embrace people working in artistic professions.
F What is the timeline?
S August 26th was when the deans were charged with the plans. Sept 1 was when the faculty heard about it and could get started with it. November 15th is the original deadline.
S It seems like a joke because the timeline is so unrealistic.
S It’s an appeasement. Like they’re saying “we gave you the opportunity, your ideas just didn’t make it, so here’s tuition” they say they want to reinvent the school, but they didn’t give us enough time.
S Whole process makes everyone safeguard the curriculum. We are not being allowed to fight back.
S It’s a lot of stress, but there’s going to be no outcome.
S What’s faculty feeling?
F We need more time. We just have the grid of an idea, with the details to follow later.
S This seed of an idea grows and grows and we become NYU.
S If we accept the administration’s proposal to grow the school, what limit do we impose on the programs? Keep going until they’re successful? Not for presenting to the board.
S Revenue needs to be structural, so that’s a joke. That will never happen.
S We shouldn’t be talking about programs, there’s a larger issue, which is cooper’s ideal.
S We can’t throw our hands up. The programs are what we’ve been charged with.
F What do you want us to do? We have it in our contracts to help the Art school. We’re being intimidated into working on this.
F There are levels of coercion. If we don’t do this shit we could wake up without a school. We’re working on safeguarding and saving the mission and the magic of the school without letting it close.
F We speak a language that the board doesn’t understand. Yet I’m being asked to understand their language.
S what kind of governance/structural changes could be made? Faculty/student representation on the board.
F Crisis creates the avenues for investing bodies. Students have different positions that faculty. But we’re on the same team, even if we can’t make the same decisions. Even if we can’t contain expansion, we can hit upon what this institution means.
F The students are a cohesive body, faculty aren’t. We each have different contracts. Some can be dumped. So you can’t expect a one to one alliance between students and faculty. I feel protective of those who have less contractual rights.
S What can we agree on, outside of contracts?
F There’s still differences. We have to understand those differences. We have to be sensitive to those differences.
S The art school is less professionalized, so we have less power going into the presentation. We need a way to get more leverage.
F If students were all united, you’d get what you wanted. In masses, you have strength. Collective across the 3 schools.
S Engineers have all professionalism and no poetics. Is there a meeting to speak between the three schools? A cooper union union?
S Can you have a more social conversation with them?
S The three schools should have one unified opinion.
S Professors are the magic; you guys carry the weight instead of asking them to do the stuff with the engineering school. We can do that shit too!
F The board doesn’t care about the next students- art students care about the next students. And they don’t understand why we care.
F The political process as a whole, there’s no outcome of the political actions, but every time you speak in one voice, it’s heard even if there’s no direct discussion from it. I encourage you to not get discouraged when you don’t see the effects of your actions.
F Student council has a great opportunity to reach out to the other schools. But the faculty is not as unified as the student body.
F Energy! Use the energy you have as young people!
F If you can get support form the engineering school, it’s a different because they don’t value free education. If you’re a great engineer, MIT is fighting over you. Mobilization, get all of them, as many as you can, like in your humanities classes.
S Its not that engineers don’t understand us. Engineers are not intrinsically less radical. They just listen to the administration and accept it. I don’t believe in revenue generating programs but I don’t want to undermine the faculty’s efforts.
F All things are on the table, we have to be ready. The crisis is a possibility for reorganization of power. Talk about the future. But the faculty are where we want to be right now.
S Create a formal time, academic or not, to talk to the other schools.
S Students have no extra time.
F Our classroom interaction is the most important part of this school. Art students have the most to lose in this situation.
F Adjuncts don’t know shit.
S Why don’t you know?
F No one answers. So I don’t talk about it in class, because I don’t have information.
F Deans have limitations, Saskia doesn’t have tenure.
F People have a responsibility with tenure, every institution carries dead weight.
F About politics in the classroom, professors are here to teach. I encourage professors to do both in their classrooms, both keep the practices in mind and question your faculty about why you’re here.
S Students don’t see/know about changes in school. Other than the school’s website, and they don’t even know who changes those documents. So we have an ASC website. It keeps us accountable and transparent.
S We need a movement, an energy.
S It hurts to take blows, some people have dropped out of the fight.
S Doesn’t have to be a unified voice, it will still be heard. We should do things simultaneously.