Commencement 2021/2020: The Photo Gallery

The 161st Commencement ceremony took place on May 26, 2021, celebrating the classes of both 2021 and 2020, who missed a commencement due to the pandemic.

The day began at 8am with COVID-19 rapid tests to ensure all participants were negative for the virus. Students went through the Great Hall in small groups to cross the stage and be honored. Two guests per student were allowed inside. After each cohort the hall was cleared and cleaned. After their ceremony each group moved to the Bowery Hotel for a reception that likewise had to be cleared and cleaned between groups. The result was a ceremony that took place over eight hours and was unlike any other. 

Photos by Joao Enxuto/The Cooper Union (*) and Marget Long/The Cooper Union (**) where indicated.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.