CUMU Huddles are informal, online learning communities for individuals from across the CUMU network to connect, learn, and collaborate around shared challenges and common goals. You can sign up for a CUMU Huddle at any time during the year.

2024 Huddles

Topics include K-12 partnerships, the anchor mission, measuring impact, and community engagement. Registration is open on a rolling basis—regardless if Huddle meetings have already started. Please register to participate in future meetings.

Anchor Mission Huddle

Institutions committed to an anchor mission intentionally apply their economic power and human capital in a long-term partnership with their local communities to improve mutual well-being. The Anchor Mission Huddle is open to individuals from CUMU member institutions working to sustain and/or expand anchor initiatives on their campus. Participants meet monthly to a) explore how higher education institutions effectively implement strategic anchor initiatives by addressing a series of conundrums or difficult questions, and b) to build a community of colleagues across the CUMU network.

The five meetings for this 2024 Huddle will be focused on one conundrum, or difficult question, as well as sharing tips, opportunities for conversation and networking, and a list of resources.

  • Conundrum #1: How do we get our arms around anchor mission work?
    Date: Thursday, February 22, 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST
    Presenter: Kevin Kecskes, professor of public administration, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University
  • Conundrum #2: How do we chart a course for our university?
    Date: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST
    Presenter: Bill Cook, director, Office of Community Development and Ogden Civic Action Network, Weber State University
  • Conundrum #3: How do we gain and sustain support within our university?
    Date: Thursday, April 25, 2024, 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST
    Presenter: Brenda Kowalewski, vice provost, high impact educational experiences, faculty excellent, international and graduate programs, Weber State University
  • Conundrum #4: How do we organize, structurally, to do this work?
    Date: Thursday, May 23, 2024, 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST
    Presenter: Larry Dixon, consultant director, Western MA Anchor Collaborative
  • Conundrum #5: How do we pay for everything?
    Date: Thursday, July 25, 2024, 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST
    Presenter: Rana Altenburg, associate vice president, public affairs, Marquette University

Bill Cook has served as director of the Office of Community Development at Weber State University, which includes serving as executive director of the Ogden Civic Action Network, for seven years. He has 29 years of experience in local government. He retired in February 2017 after serving as executive director for the Ogden City Council for 15 years. He worked in various capacities, including executive office administrator, for 14 years with Snohomish County in Everett, WA.

Cook is a graduate of Idaho State University with a B.A. and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a certified professional facilitator and the author of five books and many short stories and poems.

Check out Bill Cook in the news: Central Ogden Help Receives National Award (

bill cook, Weber State University
HUDDLE LEAD: Bill Cook, director, Office of Community Development, Weber State University

Community Engagement Huddle

Professionals engaged in any aspect of community engagement are invited to be part of the Community Engagement Huddle to explore key issues in community engagement, learn how others are effectively navigating those issues, and discuss our own challenges and successes. As part of our efforts to gain a better understanding of community engagement, this Huddle focuses on topics such as developing and sustaining partnerships from a multidisciplinary perspective, the institutionalization of engagement, and the impact of engagement on various stakeholders and constituents in community engaged work. In addition, as scholar-administrators we will discuss how to write about our work for publication and why that is important for the field.

  • Institutionalization of community engagement: This session will explore how we can institutionalize community engagement. We will look at programs, systems, policies, and practices that are put in place.
    Date: March 26, 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Lina Dostilio, University of Pittsburgh
  • Writing about community engaged work: This session will explore writing about your community engaged work, what we can write about and how to get started.
    Date: April 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Diane Doberneck, Michigan State University
  • Supporting faculty doing community-engaged work: In this session will look at how we can support faculty involved in in community-engaged work. We will discuss what needs to be in place to support faculty, what systems, practices, policies, programs that needs to be in place to support faculty.
    Date: May 29, 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Becca Berkey, Northeastern University
  • Assessing community engagement: Assessment is an important part of community engagement. We need to demonstrate this work is creating change in communities and in people’s lives. We will explore what should be assessed and how do we assess this work.
    Date: June 25, 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Henry Cunningham and Patrick Smith, University of Louisville
  • Developing and sustaining community partnership: This session will examine how we develop and sustain community partnerships. It will look at the work conducted to look at some of the key principles in developing and sustaining partnerships.
    Date: August 27, 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Byron White, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Henry R. Cunningham, Ph.D., is the inaugural director of community engagement at the University of Louisville. He has extensive background in international and community development, having conducted developmental work in several countries. He was assigned to the United Nations where he worked with international leaders focusing on sustainable development in developing countries. Dr. Cunningham co-founded and co-directed the University of Louisville International Service Learning Program, which twice won the NASPA award for the best international program. He currently teaches a community-based learning course, enabling students to engage with the immigrant populations. He has published refereed articles and book chapters on community engagement and co-authored a book on collaboration and community partnerships which was published in 2020. He is co-editor of the International Journal for Research in Service Learning and Community Engagement and serves on the Board and Executive Leadership of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, an organization comprised of higher education institutions to promote and advance engaged scholarship. Most recently, he was appointed by the American Council on Education to serve as a reviewer for the 2024 Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement.

Dr. Cunningham is the 2023 Recipient of the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award given by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities to university leaders for their contribution to cutting-edge research related to their administrative role.

Check out Henry Cunningham in the news: National group honors UofL’s Henry Cunningham | UofL News

Henry R. Cunningham, Director of Community Engagement, University of Louisville
HUDDLE LEAD: Henry R. Cunningham, director of community engagement, University of Louisville

K-12 Partnerships Huddle

The K-12 Partnership Huddle explores how to form and maintain mutually beneficial K-12 partnerships. From initiating partnerships to building on existing successes, how do universities ensure close ties with surrounding K-12 schools? Together, we explore a wide range of partnership types with a variety of purposes. Meetings include a short presentation by an invited guest and then Huddle participants have opportunities to ask questions,  share successes, and connect with others doing similar work.

  • University-community relationship framework: Exploring the community relationship spectrum; “collaboration” to “partnership” a discussion on types of university/community relationships and the implications of each.
    Date: April 24, 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET
  • Hosting k-12 campus visits: Exploring relationships at the “collaboration” end of the spectrum.
    Date: May 29, 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET
  • UMB Community Schools Initiative: Exploring relationships at the “partnership” end of the spectrum.
    Date: June 26, 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Shantay Mckinily, director, UMB Positive School Center and clinical assistant professor, UMB School of Social Work
  • Healthcare pipeline programming: Exploring  k-12 STEM programming.
    Date: July 24, 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET
    Presenter: Yolanda Langhorne, executive director, UMB CURE Scholars Program
  • Aligning strategy and action for k-12 partnerships
    Date: August 28, 2:30–3:30 p.m. ET

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Brian Sturdivant, MSW, attended Baltimore City Public Schools, Towson University, and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) where he earned a Master of Social Work degree. He possesses more than 30 years of experience in the field of social work, supporting local communities in capacities that include mental health and substance abuse treatment and more recently, university community engagement. Having been employed at the University of Maryland Baltimore since 2000, Sturdivant has developed an expertise in university/community relationships and partnerships with a focus on West Baltimore. He has had responsibility for advancing the campus’ anchor initiatives for more than two decades. Mr. Sturdivant has developed and nurtured relationships with numerous k-12 entities, nonprofits, faith-based and community organizations in West Baltimore. These relationships have allowed the campus to touch the lives of a multitude of West Baltimore youth and families around topics that include education, health and nutrition, career development, STEM Achievement and higher education access, all of which are key to the goals of the Office of Community Engagement and the UMB campus. More recently, Mr. Sturdivant has accepted responsibility for the campus’ economic development portfolio which includes local purchasing, workforce development and housing.

Check out Brian Sturdivant in the news: Brian Sturdivant—UMB Champions of Excellence (

Brian Sturdivant, MSW Director, Strategic Initiatives and Community Partnerships University of Maryland Baltimore
HUDDLE LEAD: Brian Sturdivant, director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, University of Maryland Baltimore

Impact Huddle

How do we know that our efforts with and within communities are having the impact we intend? In the Impact Huddle, guest presenters explore topics including research methodology, campus and system-wide approaches to tracking and assessing impact; program evaluation; data utilization to shape policy and practice; and novel or effective communication techniques for telling the story. Participants have opportunities to learn from and interact with guest presenters and with each other as we explore how to measure and communicate impact in our own settings.

  • Lessons from a community-university, faculty-student project advancing the labor force participation and childcare resources of Charlotte’s Latina mothers: Featured guests will highlight how they leverage partnerships to enhance their policy impact on Charlotte’s family and child development systems, both today and into the future.
    Date: Thursday, May 2, 1–2 p.m. ET
    Featured presenters: Stephanie Potochnick, associate professor, sociology and public policy, and Roger Suclupe, program director, School of Social Work, UNC Charlotte and Sarai Ordonez, manager of Camino Research Institute
  • Centering equity and community voice in data and research: Join the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Charlotte Regional Data Trust for a conversation about our evolving processes to improve data representation and community-voice in decision making about research, use of data, and informing action.
    Date: Tuesday, June 18, 1–2 p.m. ET
    Featured presenters: Sydney Idzikowski, associate director, Charlotte Regional Data Trust
Michelle Meggs is the executive director of the UNC Charlotte Women + Girls Research Alliance. Dr. Meggs’ diverse background includes work in academia, the nonprofit sector and ministry. She envisions the W+GRA becoming a place for scholars across the state and nation to come together to advance gender equity and social mobility. Dr. Meggs seeks to connect community organizations doing work on the ground with university researchers whose research relates to women’s health, economic security, employment, civic and political engagement and violence against women.

Dr. Meggs holds a D.A. in humanities with a concentration in Africana Women’s Studies from Clark Atlanta University, and a MDiv from Wake Forest University. She earned a B.A. from Johnson C. Smith University.

Related article: UNC Charlotte’s Michelle Meggs named 2024 CUMU Impact Fellow

michelle meggs headshot
HUDDLE LEAD: Michelle Meggs, executive director of the Women + Girls Research Alliance, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

2023 Huddles

HUDDLE LEAD: Viridiana Diaz, vice president for student affairs, Cal State San Marcos

Higher education continues to be the strongest avenue for upward social and economic mobility and, as CUMU institutions, we have a unique and significant role to play in serving diverse students and helping them succeed across the graduation finish line. With COVID-19 and its many interconnected impacts continuing to place barriers in front of students, how are we rethinking our services, programs and other student-facing processes with fresh eyes and a student-ready perspective? And how are these efforts increasing our students’ capacity to transcend barriers faced by earlier generations and unlock their potential for lifelong success?

HUDDLE LEAD: Jennifer Kebea, president, Campus Philly

CUMU members are examining their role as job creators to fill their own vacancies and needs, but also to support regional and industry demands. How is higher education responding to and leading the way to reimagine how we educate, train, and prepare the employees and leaders needed for tomorrow? How are we partnering with cities to attract and retain our students in the cities we call home? This CUMU Huddle will explore how our members are addressing pressing human capital demands, leading workforce development recovery in justice-oriented ways, and employing innovative local hiring strategies—all while grappling with the “Great Resignation” in their communities and on their campuses.

HUDDLE LEAD: Amber Gonzalez, associate professor, child and adolescent development, Sacramento State

Hispanic students are entering the nation’s colleges and universities at increasing rates, influencing the growth in the number of institutions eligible for federal designation as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). As more of our campuses are achieving this designation and serving a more diverse student body than ever before, how do our practices align with the needs of our students? This CUMU Huddle is intended for higher education professionals from current and emerging HSIs seeking to deepen their understanding of Hispanic servingness.

HUDDLE LEAD: Emily Janke, director, Institute for Community and Economic Engagement, UNC Greensboro

Understanding, Improving, and Sharing Our Work for Change: In this CUMU Huddle, we will explore best practices and next practices across a broad array of evaluation practices, broadly defined. We will explore the role of evaluation and how scholar-administrators can use it to understand, advance, and sustain partnerships, programs, and structures to support community engagement. We will have opportunities to share successes and struggles across our institutions, and will bring in speakers who are exploring the frontiers of this work.

2022 Huddles

HUDDLE LEAD: Paul Kuttner, associate director, University Neighborhood Partners, University of Utah

Evaluation—seeking to understand what we are accomplishing and holding ourselves accountable for doing what we intend to do—can be a powerful learning process. It can be a chance to build self-knowledge, improve practice, and dialogue with partners. It can also satisfy funding requirements and help make the case to our institutions for continued support. Documenting and telling our stories can draw in new partners, connect people across projects, and inform larger movements for community engagement and social change.

However, evaluation comes with many challenges, such as the different data demands of stakeholders and scarcity of time and resources. More fundamentally, Western, neoliberal frameworks for quantifying “outcomes” and “impact” are often at odds with the complex, relational, humanistic, and transformative nature of partnership work. In this CUMU Huddle, we will explore best practices and next practices in evaluating and documenting community-campus partnerships. We will have opportunities to share successes and struggles across our institutions, and will bring in speakers who are exploring the frontiers of this work. Our agenda will be guided by the interests of those who participate. Join us!

HUDDLE LEAD: Crystal Montalvo, College of Staten Island, CUNY

New and aspiring HSI’s often work on becoming an HSI in status and practice through asset-based and participatory frames; placing students and the communities they come from at the center of our efforts. Community engagement professionals have a critical role to play, and a unique expertise that could serve the asset-based and participatory goals of this institutional transition from PWI to HSI. Moreover, as we partner with our surrounding communities in reciprocal and asset-based ways, what would it mean if our HSI status was an intentional pillar of our community engagement, and existing place-based and anchor mission initiatives?

This CUMU Huddle is intended for community engagement professionals seeking to share their stories, and explore the complexities, challenges, and opportunities presented for our PWIs in transition

HUDDLE LEAD: Jacen Greene, co-founder and assistant director, Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, Portland State University

Homelessness and housing insecurity are pressing issues not just in our broader community, but also in our campus communities as well. National estimates by The Hope Center at Temple University show that 14% of college and university students recently experienced homelessness, and nearly half experienced housing insecurity. In a multi-institution survey, The Hope Center also found that 8% of instructional staff had experienced homelessness, and a third had experienced housing insecurity. Nationwide, more than 580,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Among students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community, homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color and other groups most affected by historical and current marginalization and discrimination.

This group brings together faculty, staff, and administrators from across the CUMU network to share resources and best practices, discuss promising new approaches, and develop research projects to better understand and address homelessness and housing insecurity among students, employees, and the broader community.

HUDDLE LEAD: John Kirby Jr, executive director, Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Drexel University

Place-based Community Engagement Professionals (CEPs) who are leading neighborhood-embedded engagement-initiatives will find like-minded people and voices at the Hyperlocal Directors Huddle. This CUMU Huddle will not only center shared experiences unique to directors and other CEPs, but will also ground efforts in equity and social justice, relationship building, operations and procedures, strengths-based approaches, and more, with the hope of uncovering how the group’s hyperlocal community engagements contribute to transformative outcomes. How are we making a difference?