Strategic Planning

Every four years, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities looks at where we’ve been and where we’re going through a strategic planning process. Our strategic direction plans build upon our core mission, provide a framework to align our activities to effectively support our member institutions, and shape the direction of our future.

Strategic Direction Plan, 2018–2021

During fall 2017, CUMU surveyed its member and non-member stakeholders and conducted interviews with key member presidents and chancellors. Based on feedback, four priorities were identified that will guide the strategic direction of our organization through 2021.


Click the download button below to read the complete version of CUMU’s Strategic Direction Plan, 2018–2021



One of CUMU’s core strengths is its ability to build connections across its member institutions.

  • CUMU will launch two new member-only networks—an urban research network and an anchor mission initiative.
  • CUMU will share innovations and effective best practices through local and regional gatherings beyond our
    annual conference.
  • CUMU will create new spaces for member institutions to develop collaborations and shared interests.


CUMU founders created the organization to provide a platform for like-minded institutions to support one another and strengthen the “metropolitan university” identity.

  • Metropolitan Universities journal will examine and expand its impact to more widely disseminate journal articles through alternative platforms and new communication approaches.
  • CUMU will implement a new communications strategy to share innovative and effective strategies and serve as a champion for members.
  • CUMU will recognize faculty, administrators and institutions for their efforts and impacts in their field through new awards and recognition programs.


There is strong support for CUMU to contribute advocacy and public policy support.

  • CUMU will develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other associations and public policy organizations to
    advocate on behalf of CUMU members.
  • CUMU will create new distribution channels for disseminating policies and legislation that are pertinent to our
    member institutions.


In the past three years, CUMU added 36 members, resulting in the biggest period of growth since its founding. CUMU will build on this momentum to expand membership and involve more member institutions in meaningful ways.

  • CUMU will expand its membership in ways that enhance its mission through a membership subcommittee that will develop more robust on-boarding and engagement programs.
  • CUMU will expand the involvement of international perspectives at our annual conference and through Metropolitan Universities journal.

Strategic Direction Plan, 2014–2017

In 2014, CUMU leadership mapped and initiated a strategic action plan to be implemented through 2017. During that time, CUMU welcomed new members, facilitated dialogues to enhance member engagement, and forged new partnerships with leading higher education associations. Key outcomes:

  • A redesigned was launched in spring 2017, elevating our core work and initiatives in a modern way.
  • Metropolitan Universities journal was transformed from a print publication to an online journal. Since going digital in April 2016, over 11,000 users have logged over 61,000 page views, furthering the reach of current and past issues.
  • Management and support of the CUMU Annual Conference was redefined to fit the needs of high responses and sold-out spaces with new presentation styles for extended dialogues.