EAST VILLAGE — An agreement expected to be filed Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court would end litigation against the Cooper Union.
As part of the agreement between the college, the Attorney General’s office and the Committee to Save Cooper Union — which filed the lawsuit last year — the school will form a new committee that will explore ways for the school to return to its tuition-free model, a tradition that ended after more than 100 years because of financial concerns.
“Today we are uniting to preserve Cooper Union as a national treasure,” said Attorney General Eric Scheiderman in a press release.
“My office will ensure all sides work together to put Cooper Union back on a path to fiscal sustainability and, hopefully, to one day return the school to its tradition of free tuition."
The development comes after a tumultuous few years at the college, which included protests and the lawsuit over the decision to charge students $20,000 a year in tuition.
The Attorney General’s office also launched an investigation into Cooper Union’s financial and operational management last year and, in June, the college’s president Jamshed Bharucha resigned, along with five trustees.
Under the agreement, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Cooper Union would expand its board of trustees to include two current students who will have voting rights, according to the school and the Attorney General’s office.
The Cooper Union Alumni Association will also elect between five and nine of the trustees, depending on the size of the board at the time, with one serving as char or vice-chair. Four full-time faculty members, one part-time faculty member and one staff member elected by their peers will also serve as non-voting members.
The board also agreed to publish all its reports and meeting minutes online, “except for notes of ‘privileged, confidential, or private matters that are the subject of executive sessions,” the school said in its statement.
“This agreement will enable us to turn our focus to the future of The Cooper Union in a manner that is inclusive of and transparent to our community, said board chairman Richard Lincer.
“We hope that this framework will enable us to develop and build support to sustain the strengths of this great institution for future generations of students.”
Members of the Committee to Save Cooper Union also praised the agreement, calling it a “major step forward.”
“This settlement implements significant reforms and creates a path to restoring Peter Cooper’s vision of education ‘open and free to all,’” said the group’s president and co-founder, Adrian Jovanovic, in a statement.