Text Size A A A A Why I Give The Cooper Union celebrates the generosity of all who contribute to its legacy. People give to The Cooper Union for many reasons and we are proud to feature some of those stories here. We are always eager to learn more about what compels people give back. If you would like to share your reason for giving to The Cooper Union, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. James Craig A'63 James Craig A'63 Giving comes with the realization that you have been helped along the way, and that you are now in a position to help others. So, about ten years ago I decided it was time to give something back…a little at first and then gradually more. We all have had life changing experiences, whether it is how we met our spouse, won the lottery, or found our first job; mine was being accepted as an art student at the Cooper Union in 1959. I was twenty-nine years old, a frustrated businessman trapped in a profession I did not find fulfilling. One day over lunch, I was complaining about being in a rut when a friend suggested I look into the Cooper Union. A serendipitous moment that changed my life. I remember at first resisting the idea, thinking it would be a waste of time and besides, feeling I was too old to go to college. Back then "old people" didn't go to college. However, despite my initial misgivings, I made the critical decision to apply to Cooper Union. The rest is history. Considering Cooper Union's generous gift--a free education leading to a fulfilling career--can there be any doubt that I owe Cooper Union a debt of gratitude? Few people are born philanthropists. Giving comes with the realization that you have been helped along the way, and that you are now in a position to help others. So, about ten years ago I decided it was time to give something back…a little at first and then gradually more. Today, I am a proud member of the Sarah Bedell Cooper Society, which honors donors whose lifetime giving is at least $500,000, and The Society of 1859, which honors those who have included Cooper Union in their estate plans. Three years ago I established the James Craig and Irene Scala Designing with Type Awards which provides scholarships to Cooper Union students who wish to study abroad. And I shall continue to find new ways of supporting future generations of Cooper students. I believe we all owe Cooper Union something, especially now during these difficult financial times. So please give. Perhaps a little at first… Bio James Craig, graphic designer, author and educator has spent over fifty years practicing his profession, writing books and teaching typography. Mr. Craig was born in Montreal, Canada, and studied fine arts in Montreal and Paris before immigrating to the United States in 1957. He received his BFA from The Cooper Union and his MFA from Yale University in 1965. For more than twenty-five years, James Craig was the Design Director at Watson-Guptill Publications and was responsible for the design of many of the major graphic design annuals. He is presently a member of the New York Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club (TDC), and Typophiles. James Craig taught Typo 1 at Cooper Union for thirty years and is the author of a number of books on graphic design: Designing with Type, Production for the Graphic Designer, Thirty Centuries of Graphic Design, and Graphic Design Career Guide. Designing with Type, now in its fifth edition, has sold over a quarter million copies worldwide. There is also a Korean edition, an eBook edition and two companion web sites: www.designingwithtype.com and www.designingwithtype.com/5. The sites include contributions from major international design schools offering a unique resource for students, educators, and professionals. Most recently James Craig has been conducting typographic workshops around the world: Academy of Design, Slovenia; Yrkeshögskolan, Sweden; Technological Institute of Athens, Greece; MIT and SID, both in India. To see the hard work of his students, visit www.DWTworkshop.com. Laura Steele AR'08 Laura Steele AR'08 Cooper needs the support of its alumni more than ever before. I hope to be a lifelong supporter of the school. I am grateful to the Cooper community for so many reasons. It provided the space and tools for me to grow and hone my ideas as an architect. It provided a devoted faculty to challenge my classmates and me to think deeply about architecture and the built environment. It provided an equally devoted administration and staff that constantly had its students at heart. Despite graduating into a crashing economy, it provided me with my first career opportunities. Having relied so much on this institution I feel very strongly about supporting it with donations. I continue to benefit from its amazing alumni network and hope that future generations of Cooper graduates will follow and enrich the professional environment with their unique points of view. Alexandra & Chris YessiosParents Alexandra & Chris YessiosParents We feel very fortunate to have had the possibility to be part of Peter Cooper’s legacy, and grateful to the people who make sure it stays on and flourishes. My name is Alexandra Yessios and I am the parent of Christina Yessios, graduate of the School of Architecture in 2006. Together with my husband, Chris, we decided to contribute to Cooper Union’s Annual Fund early on, when we realized what a valuable asset the education it provides is, not only for our daughter, but all the students who have the opportunity to attend and graduate with the best possible opportunities ahead. Chris and I came to the U.S. as graduate students and stayed on for professional growth and to raise our family in this country. We feel very fortunate to have had the possibility to be part of Peter Cooper’s legacy, and grateful to the people who make sure it stays on and flourishes. Christina is the youngest of our four children. We joined the Cooper family with pride and high expectations after our three older children graduated from universities that did not pale in academic excellence, but needless to say at a significant cost. The difference we observed in Christina’s education very soon, was the way she became engaged in her academic pursuit and how she immersed herself in what she was doing. Her involvement in, enthusiasm for, and dedication to her courses were unparalleled. The school nurtured a compelling atmosphere in a rich and intoxicating scholastic environment. It is not an exaggeration to say that these feelings lasted the duration of the five years she spent at Cooper. It is now a pleasure to watch her grow and evolve into an architect with the right foundation at her fingertips, the sensitivities that design deserves, the social issues that one should take into consideration when building the environment. She was able to enter her professional career mentored to make significant contributions to her community, encouraged to pursue meaningful goals and ideals, armed with superior skills. Chtistina works for Steven Holl Architects. She took a year off to work in Athens, Greece and two years to go to Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is back with Steven Holl, working hard and striving to apply noteworthy standards to her profession. We feel education is a most important investment for young people’s bright future. What better place than The Cooper Union to exemplify the criteria we can expect from our contribution! John & Harriet Mack,Parents John & Harriet Mack,Parents Cooper knew it before we did. He found his focus and passion at The Cooper Union. We began our donations to the Annual Fund about that time…and continue our support today through the William Cooper Mack Thesis Fellowship. The Cooper Union gave our son, Cooper, a great gift. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Cooper’s experience at The Cooper Union led him through the process of finding out ‘why’ and how to use his creativity through art and then through architecture. The faculty, staff and dear student friends gave him a safe and challenging place to learn and experiment and eventually to map his future as an architect. As we saw him grow as a student, we chose to donate to the Annual Fund in the hopes of helping others find the ‘why’. Now, we turn our focus to the support of the William Cooper Mack Thesis Fellowship in memory of our son, Cooper. Cooper loved to travel and experience the architecture of the world. It enriched his learning and his design vocabulary. Sadly, we lost Cooper to leukemia in 2008 and searched for a positive way to affect the lives of other students. With the guidance of Acting Dean Elizabeth O’Donnell, Director of the School of Architecture Archive Steven Hillyer, and former Dean of Architecture Anthony Vidler, we established the Thesis Fellowship. Its purpose is to support thesis year students in their development of significant and original thesis projects through primary research and inquiry. Over the past five years, we have seen 25 Fellowship recipients enrich their thesis work through travel. We have met each one and been inspired by their work and by their goal to strive for the extraordinary. One recipient expressed her appreciation by saying ‘thank you for your belief in our abilities to move the beacon for change in our societies through our projects, not because we necessarily deserve it but because you believe the world deserves us’. And the world will indeed be better for these students. It is our honor to know these students at The Cooper Union…students who embody the same creative spirit as our son, Cooper, did. We invite others to join us in supporting the William Cooper Mack Thesis Fellowships so that they can open the door of exploration for all architecture students. Sondra Martinkat-Taule CE'89, MCE’91 Sondra Martinkat-Taule CE'89, MCE’91 I donate to Cooper Union because I feel it is the right thing to do. I can still remember the excitement over receiving my acceptance letter and always feeling that there is something special about attending this college. I personally believe in giving back to show my appreciation and to help support the school so that others can have the same experience. Leaving college without student loans allowed me to start my professional career without the worry of a $900 per month extra payment for 10 years as I eventually experienced when my husband was paying back his loans. I love New York. I was born here and I live and work in Queens. I have three children.They fill up most of my time, and I put aside a lot of my hobbies for now, but I still like to travel. Before 2000, I went to Europe several times, but since then, I generally travel within the U.S. Last year, I was at a McDonalds in Montana and when I spoke to my kids from across the playground, a woman turned to me and asked, “Are you from Brooklyn?” That was priceless. I enjoy the simple pleasures of life. My career started at a small consulting firm in Suffolk County and the New York State Department of Transportation, where I worked with some of my classmates. The Department of Environmental Conservation, an agency which I had never even heard of before, was in the same building. It has been 22 years now. A large part of the satisfaction of working here is knowing that you work for the people of New York State, and you keep that a priority. I started in the Spill Prevention and Response group, conducted tank inspections, responded to spills, managed the network and GIS, and wrote programs. I headed the Bulk Storage Program at the time when the EPA was mandating upgrades on underground storage tanks. Currently I am in the hazardous waste remediation group, which includes State Superfund and the Brownfield Cleanup Programs. It has been a great place to work because I had the flexibility to take unpaid leaves-of-absence when I started my family. Another thing that has been great about this job is that I have recognized that New York State has much to offer. I was happy to participate in the 25th Year Reunion last year. My experiences at Cooper Union gave me the basics to succeed in any field. I wanted to stay within the engineering profession and it has been rewarding thus far. I have donated every year since graduation, and maybe I should give my mother some credit, since she also has strong beliefs in giving. Thanks Mom. Alfred Brand CE'67 Alfred Brand CE'67 Donating to Cooper Union’s Annual Fund is very rewarding because it allows me to help continue the legacy of Peter Cooper. In doing so, I hope to assist Cooper Union to provide high-quality education to students now and in the future. Cooper Union was the ideal school for me in many ways. Financially, it allowed me to get an excellent education without incurring a large student debt. However, even more important was the opportunity to study with a small group of very bright students who challenged each other to explore, learn and grow. We were taught by dedicated teachers who took personal interest in their students. Since the numbers of students in each class were small (there were 19 in our Civil Engineering class of 1967) the professors really got to know the students. The academic environment at Cooper Union prepared me to go on to graduate school at Cornell University and then to be very successful as a professional engineer. Following a year of graduate study I joined my firm, Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, in 1968 and have continued my career there for 46 years. I progressed from junior engineer to senior partner by applying the basic skills that I began to learn at Cooper Union. I benefited greatly by the foresight of Peter Cooper and the many generous supporters of the institution who came before my time. I have always “given back” to the school. In my early years I was able to do more by donating time and effort, particularly to the Alumni Association. In later years I have been fortunate to have been able to provide significant financial support both to the New Building Fund and to the Annual Fund. It has been my goal to help provide for others, now and in the future, the same opportunity which was provided to me. George Reeves ME'64 George Reeves ME'64 I donate to Cooper because of the quality education provided to me by the school. I want to acknowledge and reward this gift and the trust that the school showed in my abilities. One thing I have recently decided is that the current discussions over tuition would not affect my Cooper donations. Full scholarship or not, Cooper provides an enormously valuable exceptionally high quality education at well below cost. I received this benefit and have been fortunate to be able to pay some of that benefit forward to help current students. Right after graduating from Cooper, I got a job four blocks away with a small manufacturer of industrial equipment. I got married, signed up for night school and accumulated four kids. As an applications engineer, my job was to make the equipment work in the field to meet my customer's needs. Sometimes the solution wasn't elegant, it was never perfect, but it always did the job. After a few years, I took a job focusing on energy efficiency and utility customer service. I got my MBA degree from NYU and started hearing about "ready, fire, aim" management, way before "just do it." I got divorced, remarried and started gaining my ten grandkids. My wife of thirty-four years is an economist and we have together operated a consulting and energy efficiency firm since 1986. In the 80's Senator Bill Bradley sponsored a law to demonstrate that utilities could pay for conservation. Then industrialist, now Senator, Angus King got a utility to implement a full scale program. Our contribution was to require measurement of results using historical billing data and inclusion of residential customers. Plus design of the retrofit strategies and monitoring of savings, which allowed continued improvement in knowledge of what works. Kudos to Princeton, U Colorado, Ohio State and Texas A&M for very helpful research on modeling building energy use. Pay for Savings became a very lucrative business for us in several states. Maintaining our consulting business, we also had fun in the 90's, as Eastern Europe began to open, by exporting energy efficiency program design and implementation techniques to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Voltaire wrote that "a wise Italian said perfect is the enemy of the good." I'm only half Italian and not so wise, so it took me quite a while to apply that adage to more than business. I have finally decided to focus on all the things that are good in my life instead of on my needs and wants. This is hard for an engineer, who always sees ways to improve stuff. The payoff is that I can see how well off I am, and although I know Cooper isn't perfect, I can still see that it is really very good. I am having a great time looking at the good news in my life and sharing some of it with Cooper Union. Edward and Pamela Talisse, Parents Edward and Pamela Talisse, Parents We give to The Cooper Union simply because we are grateful for the wonderful experience our daughter is having there as a student. Likewise, we appreciative the Administration’s extraordinary efforts to engage with the parents of students. They made us feel welcome and very much part of The Cooper Union family, which is part of the foundational fabric of New York City. Besides, donating helps us to protect and enhance our daughter’s investment in a Cooper Union education. The significance, respect and prestige earned from a Cooper Union diploma, continues to rise. Cooper Union graduates find themselves in a highly enviable position. They are exceptionally employable and productive members of society. That benefits us all. We also enjoy staying close to the Cooper Union community and as a donor, we have access to Cooper events and exhibits. Of course, we also recognize that The Cooper Union operates in a highly competitive environment, and we are hopeful that our efforts can help to attract and retain the best students and professors, now and in the future. Edward and Pamela Talisse are native New Yorkers having both grown up in Brooklyn, New York. They have four children ages 24 to 17. They now live near Union Square in Manhattan. Alan Fortier ChE'79 Alan Fortier ChE'79 It's fitting that I am paying back Cooper now, when I am able, for helping me at a time I could not afford the education. Cooper changed by life by offering me an education that I would not have been able to afford at any other university. This education, plus the elite credential of "Cooper Union" on my resume helped open doors and aided in my professional success. Now that I am significantly better off financially than when I attended Cooper, I am very pleased to make significant donations so that others may have the opportunity that the school gave to me. After my graduation in 1979 with a BS in chemical engineering I went to work for DuPont. I later went back to graduate school at the Harvard Business School. I went on to join a prestigious management consulting firm, and later started my own consulting firm, which has been highly successful. As indicated, I believe my Cooper education, and the Cooper credential helped me land each of these positions versus stiff competition. It's fitting that I am paying back Cooper now, when I am able, for helping me at a time I could not afford the education.