Aiming to raise funds for the Cooper Union—the elite engineering, architecture and arts college in Manhattan whose financial realities led administrators this past fall to begin charging tuition to incoming students for the first time in more than a century—a group of alumni has launched a not-for-profit consulting firm they hope will generate donations from users of the expertise of more than 12,000 CU graduates who will provide wide-ranging business advice.

The Cooper Union Alumni Advisory Service, or CU2AS, is offering pro-bono services to start-up businesses and others that may lack sufficient staff or managerial capabilities to navigate regulation or take business plans to the next level.

The advisory firm is independent and not affiliated with the college.

It seeks out prospects, primarily through its website,, then matches the companies with alumni who have the right experience.

Alumni are offering counseling in areas that include planning for expansion, marketing, web design, company performance, resource allocation, technical evaluations, management and quality assurance-quality control, say consulting firm participants.

CU2AS then hopes to gain compensation for its services that prove useful and generate financial return by seeking donations from “clients” to Cooper Union, says co-founder and board member Raymond Tillman, who is a civil engineering alumnus and retired URS Corp. manager. 

He says prospects have included a small New Jersey contractor specializing in the design and installation of voice, data, video and security systems; a start-up in Long Island that wants to make “customized” candy; a real estate developer with an innovative approach to block-based urban renewal in Dutchess County; and a proposed transit system aiming to connect an upstate New York airport and nearby train station.

“We want to help Cooper Union and have others benefit from the substantial expertise of its alumni,” says Tillman, who adds that the consulting approach has applicability to other US colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, CU alumni, faculty students and others are awaiting a ruling from the New York state Supreme Court in a lawsuit by an activist group, the Committee to Save Cooper Union, against the college's board charging that its decision to impose tuition was a breach of its fiduciary duty. The legal action also seeks an injunction against charging tuition. 

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art was founded in 1859 by successful inventor-entrepreneur Peter Cooper.