Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha Resigns Amid Ongoing Attorney General Investigation

Bharucha is the latest casualty in a bitter battle.

Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha. Photo courtesy of the Cooper Union, New York.

Jamshed Bharucha, the president of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art since 2011, has resigned in the latest development in a battle over the historically tuition-free school’s move to charge tuition of students who matriculated in fall 2014.

Peter Cooper, who founded the school in 1859, said that education should be “as free as air and water.” Shortly after Bharucha took office, he announced that the school had been running at a significant budget deficit for years and that charging tuition would have to be “on the table” as an option to bridge the gap.

Bharucha resigned a day after the noisy departure of five pro-tuition board members. The departing board members were former board chairman and real estate manager Mark Epstein, Vassar College president Catherine Hill, investment banker Monica Vachner, and architects Daniel Libeskind and François De Menil. Epstein, an alum of Cooper Union also withdrew his support as a donor.

All departing board members were in favor of charging tuition, a decision that has given rise to a lawsuit and an investigation by the New York Attorney General.

Bharucha’s resignation doesn’t come as a total surprise, since in April Cooper Union’s trustees voted in favor of not renewing Bharucha’s contract next year.

There has been much disagreement over the decision for the historically free college to start charging students. In his resignation letter, forwarded to artnet News, Bharucha defended the implementation of tuition:

It has been an honor to serve as the 12th President of Cooper Union these past four years. The focus of my presidency has been to secure Cooper’s finances for generations of deserving students in the future, while preserving excellence and increasing socio-economic access.

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. 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.

Bharucha will go on to be a visiting scholar at Harvard Graduate School of Education, with vice president for finance and administration William Mea taking over as an interim replacement at Cooper Union from July 1.

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