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Cooper Union's $166 million academic building at 41 Cooper Square
Cooper Union's $166 million academic building at 41 Cooper Square


Apr. 17, 2012

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Cooper Union president Jhamshed Bharucha can’t be happy about CU School of Art junior Alan Lundgard impersonating him in a prank email to the media -- but at least the kid’s done his homework. In the tradition of the Yes Men and, more recently, Occupy Wall Street -- whose hackers faked a cancellation of the Whitney Biennial back in February -- Lundgard pretended that Bharucha was planning to lease the school’s recently constructed $166 million building to New York University, ensuring that the struggling school could maintain its tuition-free policy.

“The 41 Cooper Square building has been, for the community, a reminder of past ill-planning and fiduciary neglect. We have, and must continue, to live within the means provided to us in order to preserve Peter Cooper's innovative social mission,” the letter read.

The New York news site Gothamist bit, and later admitted it was “punked,” in announcing that the move would generate $20 million annually between 2015 and 2018, and that Bharucha had promised to move from presidential housing into basic academic residencies.

After the story posted, Cooper Union quickly deemed the report “totally false” in a statement on its website. Lundgard later told Gothamist that though he “felt there would be repercussions,” he for some reason believed he was in “a unique position absorb them.”

He added, “The question has become: what do we consider more expendable, a 110-year tradition dedicated to the value of tuition-free, merit-based education, or a three-year-old trophy building that is partially responsible for the institution's current fiscal turmoil?”

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