Due to demand, registration for the CUMU Annual Conference is closed. If you have questions, please email us.

The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Annual Conference is highly regarded as a vibrant platform to explore and share new ideas. The conference is focused on CUMU member institutions, their community partners, and their work addressing contemporary challenges through dialogue and presentations delivered in a variety of formats that allow for in-depth conversations and actionable next steps.

25th Annual Conference
All In: The Urban Mission

October 21–23, 2019 | Philadelphia, PA | Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Institutions of higher education play major roles in strengthening the fabric of our communities. Across the CUMU membership, institutions are more closely aligning university goals with those of their city and achieving positive outcomes more quickly. By leveraging historical connections and existing strengths, they promote economic mobility, drive economic development, foster creativity, address societal challenges, and improve lives.

The 2019 CUMU Annual Conference, All In: The Urban Mission, looks at the role higher education plays in creating significant, equitable outcomes in collaboration with the communities they serve. The theme asks CUMU members to reflect broadly and specifically on how the urban mission can be fully integrated, from real estate assets to college readiness pipeline programs, and into their operations, structure, partnerships and academic objectives.

Philadelphia: A Rich Backdrop

The conference is more than talking about the work; it’s also about learning and observing how and where the work happens. The theme of All In is perfect for Philadelphia. Our four local member institutions—Drexel University, Rutgers University–Camden, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania—are national leaders in fully adopting and integrating the urban mission. Throughout the conference, these institutions will collaborate to bring critical conversations to attendees.

Major Themes

The 2019 CUMU Annual Conference calls on each of us to reflect on how we can move our institutions closer to full integration of the urban mission.

Supporting these major themes can be transformational to an institution, a community, and, most importantly, individuals. However, for the urban mission to be fully integrated, this work must be scaled and sustained. What new and successful approaches in fundraising, strategic planning, assessment and evaluation, institutionalizing, story-telling, reward and recognition, and structure are happening on your campus to fully integrate the urban mission?

Large-scale development projects are spurring investments in dis-invested neighborhoods across the CUMU membership. While CUMU members are expanding their footprints, they are doing so in ways that drive inclusive economic growth. Stakeholders are utilizing multi-faceted approaches to incorporate pathways for residents to share in the employment and business development opportunities; benefit from neighborhood revitalization; and access services offered by the redevelopment.

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to higher education and a free society. Our institutions have made a greater commitment to diversity and inclusion across all levels of higher education because it enriches educational experiences; enhances social mobility; strengthens communities both inside and out of the institution; and creates engaged citizens who can successfully participate an ever-changing global society.

With a perceived decline in civic participation and a growing erosion of public discourse, it’s important that higher education reinvest in longstanding commitments to prepare students to become engaged citizens. Through community-based learning, student civic leadership, community partnerships, and volunteerism, CUMU members are creating socially aware and active leaders.

Colleges and universities spend over $43 billion on goods and services annually. Many CUMU member institutions are changing procurement policies to redirect purchasing dollars to local businesses. By committing to purchase local goods and services, CUMU member institutions encourage local business development and growth that helps to create more healthy and stable communities.

The pursuit of an anchor mission centers on the more strategic use of all university assets, especially those related to how it hires employees. CUMU members are developing dynamic partnerships and pipelines for expanding outcomes and opportunities for residents through local hiring. Through intentional coordination and alignment among the workforce, economic development, and education sectors, CUMU member institutions are driving equitable economic growth by creating pathways into the workforce.

Through comprehensive initiatives and partnerships with K-12, nonprofit organizations, and local communities, CUMU member institutions are removing barriers to college access and creating sustained pipelines into higher education for their urban communities. CUMU members are also developing programs focused on “opportunity youth”—young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor working—that focus on prevention of disconnection, school completion, school re-engagement, barrier remediation, and job placement.

CUMU members are embracing the importance of innovation, commercialization, entrepreneurship, and the creation of economic value for their communities. They are adapting curricula to align learning and resources with the demands of larger entrepreneurial communities. They are creating talent hubs that promote commercialization of university discoveries, launch successful startups, and generate broader community and economic engagement.


Philadelphia, PA | October 21–23, 2019

San Diego, CA | October 19–21, 2020

Washington, DC | October 18–20, 2021


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