The Board of Trustees of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has offered not to renew the contract of the institution’s president in the hope that such a move would help end litigation and an investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The president, Jamshed Bharucha, took office in 2011 when concerns were already growing about the prestigious arts and engineering school’s finances. It was running deficits despite owning some prime Manhattan real estate — the land under the Chrysler Building, for starters. Over the next two years came the decisions to charge tuition, abandoning a century-old tradition.
A lawsuit filed by professors, alumni, and students is seeking to block those moves, and the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced last month that his office was investigating decisions by the board and Mr. Bharucha.
The 23-member board voted last week in favor of making the offer not to renew Mr. Bharucha’s contract, even though there’s no guarantee that the strategy will succeed. The architect Daniel Libeskind, a trustee who opposed the move, said the board had “fired the messenger that delivered the bad news” regarding tuition because some of the trustees “were worried about the threat of further investigation.”
Other board members, however, disagreed. The Journal quoted one trustee as saying that Mr. Schneiderman’s office had pushed for Mr. Bharucha’s resignation as soon as it could be secured, but that the trustees had thought it was only fair to let him finish out his contract. The trustee said board members had no ill will toward Mr. Bharucha but agreed that a leadership change would benefit Cooper Union.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Schneiderman declined to comment.
Mr. Bharucha defended his tenure, saying that the board had had a say in his decisions and that he believes he has brought stability to Cooper Union.