Commencement 2023

Commencement 2023







The Cooper Union’s 163nd Commencement took place in the Great Hall on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 10:30am. President Laura Sparks welcomed everyone and described the Class of 2023 as “a class of collaborators… a class of budding architects, artists, and engineers who get things done with and for others.” She noted the way this class “sought out interdisciplinary opportunities like no other class in The Cooper Union’s history, raising the bar for what collaboration can look like.”

Andrius Alvarez-Backus, a graduating senior in the School of Art, took the stage to deliver the student address and commend the “mission of collaboration” that has defined his classmates’ time at Cooper despite the disruptions of a global pandemic and great social challenges in the world. “There’s one adjective I refuse to claim, and that’s ‘resilient,’ he told his peers. “As we grow overly tolerant of adversity, we accept the flawed world we currently face. Instead, we should dream of and demand a world filled with ease and equity, and leverage the skills we learned here to execute that reality.”

Kara Swisher, an acclaimed podcast host, journalist, and editor-at-large of New York Magazine known for her incisive coverage of the tech industry, gave a sharp-witted commencement address, encouraging the graduating class to “speak truth to power” and to not fear stepping out of line. Commenting on ethical concerns about recent developments in generative artificial intelligence and large language models, she told the Class of 2023: “I am not afraid of AI. I am afraid of the bad people who use it better than the good people. … It requires all of you to think much more carefully about what you make and about the implications of that and to imagine at all times that, like all systems, everything you touch is linked in a vast web. You must take responsibility that the first pioneers of the digital age did not.”

Anne Romme AR’05, Leslie Hewitt A’00, and George Reeves ME’64 received this year’s Presidential Citations. Robert Tan AR'81, president of The Cooper Union Alumni Association, closed out the day, welcoming this year's grads to the CUAA. Watch the full ceremony online.

Photos by João Enxuto / The Cooper Union, unless otherwise noted.

  • 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.