The leadership structure and headquarters team, while small, work to ensure continuity and awareness of CUMU’s vision and mission. The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities is headquartered at Towson University in Towson, MD. Towson University was one of the original founders of CUMU and remains committed to the values of the organization.

Board of Directors

The CUMU Board of Directors is comprised of presidents and chancellors of member institutions. Executive Committee members are elected to two-year terms.

William Covino
William CovinoChair 2022–2024
President, Cal State LA
Kristin Sobolik
Kristin SobolikVice Chair & Treasurer 2022–2024
Chancellor, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Devorah Lieberman
Devorah LiebermanRecent Past Chair 2022–2024
President, University of La Verne
Angelo Araimo
Angelo AraimoMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Wagner College
Virginia Arthur
Virginia ArthurMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Metropolitan State University
Gloria Gibson
Gloria GibsonMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Northeastern Illinois University
Frank Gilliam, Jr
Frank Gilliam, JrMember-at-Large 2022–2024
Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Sandra Haynes
Sandra HaynesMember-at-Large 2021–2023
Chancellor, Washington State University, Tri-Cities
Ken Iwama
Ken IwamaMember-at-Large 2022–2024
Chancellor, Indiana University Northwest
Joanne Li
Joanne LiMember-at-Large 2022–2024
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Ellen Neufeldt
Ellen NeufeldtMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Cal State San Marcos
Thomas Parham
Thomas ParhamMember-at-Large 2021–2023
President, Cal State Dominguez Hills
Deidra Peaslee
Deidra PeasleeMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Saint Paul College
Paul Pribbenow
Paul PribbenowMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Augsburg University
Melanie Perreault
Melanie PerreaultCEO of Administrative Headquarters (ex-officio)
Interim President, Towson University

Headquarters Team

The CUMU headquarters team manages events, communications, finances, and operations in addition to serving as liaison to partner organizations.

Debbie Darr

Membership & Operations Coordinator

Barbara A. Holland, Ph.D.

CUMU Strategy Advisor

Valerie Holton, Ph.D.

Executive Director
Editor, Metropolitan Universities journal

Debbie DarrMembership & Operations Coordinator

Debbie joined CUMU in 2015 and serves as the membership and operations coordinator. In this role, Debbie handles CUMU operations and the functions of its institutional membership, including management of the organization’s finances; recruitment and on-boarding of new members; annual renewals of membership; enhancement of membership value; administrative functions of the executive committee; support for the annual conference; grant applications and management; and more to support the success of the organization.

Debbie’s background includes ten years in the financial services industry at two Baltimore firms, Alex Brown and Wachovia Securities. Debbie holds an M.B.A. from Loyola University Maryland and a B.S. in business administration and marketing from Towson University.

Barbara A. Holland, Ph.D.CUMU Strategy Advisor

Barbara A. Holland, Ph.D. is recognized internationally for her scholarship and expertise on organizational change in higher education with a focus on institutionalization of community engagement. As an academic leader, she held senior administrative positions at Portland State University, Northern Kentucky University, University of Western Sydney and University of Sydney. In government-related roles, she was Director of the Learn and Serve America National Service-Learning Clearinghouse for seven years and Visiting Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of University Partnerships for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations. As a researcher and consultant, she has advised more than 100 colleges and universities in the USA and other nations regarding community engagement institutionalization and leadership of change, and she has authored many publications of note, including the creation of the Holland Matrix for Institutionalization.

As a scholar and leader, Barbara was a founding board member and 2011-12 Chair of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE), and also was a founding member of the National Review Board for the Scholarship of Education, the National Advisory Panel for the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement, and the Australian Universities Community Engagement Alliance (now called Engagement Australia) which in 2008 named her one of their first two Honorary Fellows. In 2006, she received the IARSLCE Award for Research Achievement. She previously served as Executive Editor of Metropolitan Universities journal and serves in editorial roles for five other refereed journals. Barbara had been a lead faculty member for the Engagement Academy for University Leaders, sponsored by four major higher education associations, since it began in 2008.

Her current research and practice interests include the design of national and international frameworks for professional development of academic leaders, analysis of the strategic importance of community engagement to teaching, learning and research quality, and the development of comprehensive data systems for monitoring and measuring engagement’s impacts and outcomes. Barbara’s Bachelor and Master’s degrees are in Journalism from the University of Missouri and her Ph.D. is in higher education policy from University of Maryland. She resides in Portland, Oregon.

Valerie Holton, Ph.D.Executive Director, CUMU
Editor, Metropolitan Universities

Valerie Holton serves as CUMU’s executive director. She brings over 25 years of experience in and across universities and non-profit organizations, as a faculty member, administrator, Fulbright Senior Scholar, practitioner, and consultant. Valerie has developed and strengthened internal and external partnerships to advance strategic and operational imperatives to deepening our public mission. Valerie’s scholarship draws on her professional experience by examining organizational change and impact.

After serving as an author and guest editor, she became the executive editor of its peer-reviewed journal, Metropolitan Universities (MUJ), in 2016. Valerie has served as CUMU’s senior fellow, facilitated its strategic planning processes, developed and led the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, and guided the early development of CUMU’s partnership with The Democracy Collaborative, which later expanded into the Anchor Learning Network.

Valerie holds a B.A. in psychology from The College of William & Mary, and a masters and Ph.D. in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She continues to teach courses with National Yang Ming Chaio Tung University in Taipei, Taiwan.

Towson University Support Staff

  • David Brasington, Events and Operations Manager
  • Cassidy Cregan, Graphic Design Manager
  • Sharyn Grove, Director, Communications & Events
  • Mikey Mullen, Video Production Specialist
  • Arthur Smith, Senior Communications Manager