New York Reaches Deal With Cooper Union, Plaintiffs

NEW YORK  (AP) -

New York’s attorney general announced an agreement Wednesday that would end a lawsuit against Cooper Union and create an independent monitor into the financial management of the college known for its architecture, arts and engineering programs.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he hopes the deal eventually could lead to the school restoring free tuition.

The Manhattan college began charging tuition in 2014 for the first time in more than a century, to avoid financial insolvency. That sparked a lawsuit by the Committee to Save Cooper Union, an alliance of students, alumni and faculty.

The agreement was reached with the school’s board of trustees and the plaintiffs. They filed a consent decree Wednesday that requires court approval.

Adrian Jovanovic, president of the committee, said the settlement “implements significant reforms and creates a path to restoring Peter Cooper’s vision of education ‘open and free to all.’”

According to the attorney general’s office, an investigation began last year that showed the school’s current financial problems were rooted in the failure of its 2006 plan to finance a new academic building by taking a $175 million mortgage on other property and investing and losing $35 million in stocks.

“My office will ensure all sides work together to put Cooper Union back on a path to fiscal sustainability,” said Schneiderman, whose office has oversight of New York’s nonprofits.