The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly known as Cooper Union or The Cooper Union and informally referred to, especially during the 19th century, as "the Cooper Institute", is a privately funded college located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Inspired in 1830 when Peter Cooper learned about the government-supported École Polytechnique in France, Cooper Union was established in 1859. The school was built on a radical new model of American higher education based on founder Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that an education "equal to the best technology schools [then] established" should be accessible to those who qualify, independent of their race, religion, sex, wealth or social status, and should be "open and free to all". The Cooper Union originally granted each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship. Following its own financial crisis, the school decided to abandon this policy starting in the Fall of 2014, but each incoming student receives at least a half-tuition merit scholarship. A consent decree brokered by the New York Attorney General in New York Supreme Court, and finalized in 2015, required the establishment of a Free Education Committee with the responsibility to present a strategic plan, no later than January 15, 2018, for consideration by the school's Board of Trustees, who would then vote on it at their Board meeting in March 2018, to allow the school to return to a sustainable tuition-free model. The college is divided into three schools: the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, the School of Art, and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. It offers undergraduate and master's degree programs exclusively in the fields of architecture, fine arts, and engineering. It is a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). Cooper Union is ranked at #2 in the Regional Colleges (North) category by U.S. News & World Report Following the resignation of Jamshed Bharucha in 2015, William Mea served as the college's Acting President until January 2017 when Laura Sparks became the 13th president. Until 2014 Cooper Union was one of the very few American institutions of higher learning to offer a full-tuition scholarship – valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012 – to every admitted student. Cooper Union has historically been one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate typically below 10%. Both the art and architecture schools have acceptance rates below 5%. Cooper Union received 2,536 applications for the 2014–2015 academic year and its acceptance rate was 15%. As a result of its record low acceptance ratio for the fall 2010 incoming class, Cooper Union was named by Newsweek as the "#1 Most Desirable Small School" and "#7 Most Desirable School" overall.
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