The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is an international affiliate organization of colleges and universities in metropolitan and urban areas that share common understandings of their institutional missions and values. Institutions located in urban and metropolitan areas often do not fit the model of more traditional colleges and universities. CUMU was formed in 1989 by leaders of metropolitan and urban institutions who realized their unique challenges and opportunities as they looked to the future of higher education. With its founding, CUMU took the lead in defining the concepts of university-community engagement and stewardship of place.

CUMU is dedicated to its member institutions and to the creation and dissemination of knowledge on the issues that face our urban and metropolitan campuses and the communities we serve. As those issues grow, so does the complexity of community and campus-wide engagement. CUMU works to:

  • Create a unique community for presidents and chancellors to exchange shared challenges and successes
  • Convene national and regional conferences and conversations to address these issues
  • Connect member institutions with external partners to promote new opportunities for change
  • Engage stakeholders and members through informal and formal networks and affinity groups
  • Share the latest ideas and trends shaping the future of higher education through the Metropolitan Universities journal
  • Maintain and disseminate data on our member institutions and their impact
  • Partner with leading public policy organizations to amplify our voice

The Urban Advantage

America has long been an urbanized nation. Today, more than two-thirds of America’s population and jobs are based in major metropolitan areas, producing 75 percent of the nation’s output. Our future will be shaped by the success of metropolitan hubs as sources of innovation, creativity, health care, transportation, employment, governance, and education.

Urban and metropolitan areas face unique challenges in serving the multifaceted needs of their communities, but also have advantages that create some of the world’s greatest universities. As anchor institutions, CUMU member institutions are major employers and developers. They stimulate and nurture new economic enterprises, create workforce pipelines, and enrich the cultural life of their cities. Urban university-community engagement enriches metropolitan communities while strengthening the universities’ core commitment to teaching and research.

Founders of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities recognized this “urban advantage” and in the Declaration of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities wrote “our future as knowledge organizations will continue to be forged by sustained, reciprocal engagement with our cities.”