Introducing one of Capture Higher Ed’s newest partners, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Located at Cooper Square on the border of Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, the small private college is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished higher education institutions.
Founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper, Cooper Union offers an excellent education in art, architecture and engineering. From the start, the college, which commonly was called “the Cooper Institute” in the 19th century, was a unique institution dedicated to its founder’s belief that education is the key to personal prosperity and civic virtue.
“Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace,” Cooper quoted Proverbs in his original charge to the Board of Trustees.
He was a man well ahead of his time, making his school free to the working classes and took the revolutionary step of opening the school to both men and women. There also was no color barrier at Cooper Union. Additionally, knowing that not everyone would be able to enroll in a full-time course of study, Cooper opened a public reading room and stocked it with the latest newspapers and periodicals. Over time, poor immigrant children, like future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, found it a quiet haven amid the bustling life of the lower east side.
Cooper also wanted his school to play a role in the political and cultural life of his city and country. That’s why he established the Great Hall in the basement of the school’s Foundation Building. It seated 900, the largest secular meeting room in New York when it was opened. It made history when Abraham Lincoln, an unannounced candidate for president of the United States and a virtual unknown in New York, was invited to speak there by the Young Men’s Republican Union.
To some it seemed like a strange invitation; Peter Cooper had served as a Jacksonian Democrat on the New York Board of Alderman. But he was also an ardent enemy of slavery and was glad to provide a forum for the young lawyer from Illinois. The address Lincoln gave, which has come to be known as his “right makes might” address, aroused the country.
“No man ever made such an impression on his first appearance to a New York audience,” wrote the New York Tribune. Lincoln himself credited the speech at Cooper Union with a major role in his rise to the White House.
Read more about Cooper Union’s fascinating history here.
With an enrollment of more than 900 undergraduate and graduate students, the college today is made up of four schools: The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, School of Art, Albert Nerken School of Engineering, and Faculty of Humanities and Social Science. Each school offers specialized programs and undergraduate degrees; the architecture and engineering schools also offer post-graduate advanced degrees.
Among its numerous high rankings, Cooper Union is ranked the “No. 1 best overall undergraduate school in its region (north)” and “best value for its region” in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2019 guide. It also is listed among the “Best Design Schools for Creative Talent” in Businessweek and the nation’s “25 Hottest Universities” in the Newsweek-Kaplan College Guide.
Cooper Union occupies a singular place in America’s educational and social landscape, its graduates going on to be visionary thinkers, creators and innovators who change the world. We are proud to welcome them into the Capture family of partners.