New Roles for Teresa Dahlberg & Stephen Baker

To: The Cooper Union Community

From: President Jamshed Bharucha

I am pleased to announce that Teresa Dahlberg will serve as chief academic officer for The Cooper Union, in addition to her role as the dean of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, effective immediately. In addition, Stephen P. Baker has been appointed vice president for student affairs and community relations after serving as associate dean of students for 37 years, as well as the dean of athletics since 2012, a position he will retain.

Chief Academic Officer

Teresa’s new responsibilities focus on management of academic issues that are not specific to one of the schools. Her new duties include coordinating the work associated with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, our primary accrediting body; coordinating our response to the escalating requirements for assessment in preparation for our next accreditation visit; overseeing compliance with and reporting to pertinent federal, state and city agencies on regulatory issues that affect academic programs; stewarding program review through the New York State Department of Education; overseeing the Institutional Review Board; developing and implementing policies related to intellectual property; improving our ability to secure and manage government grants and contracts; working with the leadership of the faculty unions on academic issues, and overseeing academic computing.

Teresa’s new role will not affect the reporting lines of the deans of art, architecture, and humanities and social sciences, which will continue to be direct to me. The roles of the deans will not change. The deans will continue to lead their schools and to make the academic decisions within their schools.

The need for designating a chief academic officer arises for several reasons. First, the Middle States Commission has recommended that Cooper appoint a provost as the chief academic officer. However, appointing a provost would add a new layer of administration at considerable cost. Some have suggested appointing a provost and eliminating the deans of the schools, but we cannot succeed without strong school deans who are leaders in their respective disciplines. Assigning some of the duties to an existing administrator is much more cost-effective. Teresa can find additional support for some of her duties as dean of engineering with fewer resources than it would take to create a provost office.

Teresa’s prior experience at the University of North Carolina Charlotte will be valuable for this new role. She served on the leadership team that oversees the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation for the entire institution and was responsible for assessment of all programs within the College of Computing and Informatics. During a two-year intensive SACS effort, Teresa initiated and then helped implement a quality enhancement plan for the seven diverse colleges within the university. As a leading recipient of government grants, Teresa was key to a multi-year overhaul of research services that support grants and contracts. She led an interdisciplinary research team for several years, requiring close interaction with the Institutional Review Board. Teresa had responsibility for information technology services supporting academics and research for the more than 1,500 students, faculty and staff in the computing college.

Teresa’s energetic and resourceful work in her brief tenure as dean of the engineering school gives me great confidence that she will undertake her new responsibilities to the great benefit of The Cooper Union. Whenever she serves the dual roles of dean and chief academic officer on issues that may span the schools, I believe strongly in Teresa’s ability to manage any potential conflict of interest in a manner that is fair and transparent. In balancing her roles, she will have my assistance and that of her colleagues if ever it is required.

Please join me in thanking and congratulating Teresa for taking on these new responsibilities on behalf of all of us.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Community Relations

Steve Baker has been the longest-serving dean in the institution's history. He has served the Cooper community with all the passion of a graduate, which he officially became as an honorary alumnus with the Class of 2013. As vice president for student affairs and community relations, Steve will become an officer of The Cooper Union. He will oversee all student affairs functions including student government, activities, judiciary, health compliance, career services, and residential life. Steve also will oversee local community relations and buildings and grounds.

With the departure of the former director of facilities management and the former dean of students, reorganizing the student affairs division and broadening Steve’s role is more cost-effective than filling those positions in kind. Steve takes on the facilities management department as part of that consolidation. Also, given his extensive background and knowledge of The Cooper Union’s place in the immediate neighborhood, Steve will serve as the point person for local community relations.

Steve began his career at The Cooper Union in 1966 when he was hired as an instructor and later became a tenured professor of physical education in all three schools. He became associate dean of students in 1976. He established the annual ski trip that continues to this day, creating memories for thousands of Cooper students, alumni, friends and family. He has been a key liaison between students, faculty, staff and alumni. Through thoughtful listening and an unflappable can-do attitude, Steve has solved countless problems, strengthened countless relationships and bettered the institution. In addition he has become an important resource for fundraising, using his many personal contacts to organize events such as the annual alumni golf outing.

Steve is well known for his work mentoring our scholar athletes. During the 1970s he established men's and women's tennis and volleyball teams, and in 1992 he reintroduced the dormant intercollegiate basketball program. In the ensuing years he has coached scholar athletes to nearly 30 championships under his well-known motto, "No gym, no fields, no courts, no time and no excuses." The success of the sports program was featured on National Public Radio last year.

In the short time Steve has been working with the team in Buildings and Grounds, he has demonstrated a deep understanding and respect for the crucial support that the staff provides to the daily activities of all members of the Cooper community. He has worked with the team to identify ways to provide even better service with reduced resources, which speaks powerfully to the dedication and professionalism of all concerned.

As mentor, friend and inspiration to generations of Cooper students and members of the community, Steve has become an institution within the institution. He meets students on their first day of orientation, works with them through the challenges of their academic years, sees them off at commencement and stays in touch after they have graduated. In his new role, he will become an even stronger advocate for students. Please join with me in congratulating Steve on his well-deserved promotion. 

  • 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.