CUMU’s 2019 Annual Conference, All In: The Urban Mission, was our largest to date, selling out weeks in advance. 479 leaders from the United States, Canada, and South Africa, representing 105 higher education institutions, gathered in Philadelphia to discuss the urban mission. We also welcomed our largest group of university collaborators and partners.

Day one kicked off with four community experiences and two deep-dive workshops led by local member institutions who are national leaders in fully adopting and integrating the urban mission.

  • University of Pennsylvania took attendees to the Paul Robeson House and Museum to highlight the partnership between UPenn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships and the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which owns and operates the Paul Robeson House and Museum.
  • Drexel University took attendees to The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, the physical manifestation of President John Fry’s mission for Drexel University to be the most civically engaged collegiate institution in the country
  • Rutgers University–Camden highlighted Camden Rising, a multifaceted approach to revitalizing the city and promoting its’ growth and progress.
  • Temple University highlighted workforce development initiatives and strategic partnerships with local stakeholders in North Philadelphia.

While hundreds of attendees traveled across Philly for community experiences, Lina Dostilio, Ed.D., associate vice chancellor, community engagement, University of Pittsburgh, led a packed deep-dive workshop on place-based hyperlocal engagements. Dostilio was appointed CUMU’s first research fellow in spring 2019 and has focused her research on cutting edge work on hyperlocal community engagement and its impact on building community capacity. The final report will be released in November 2019.

During her remarks at the opening plenary, Devorah Lieberman, president of the CUMU executive committee, welcomed attendees and thanked our local members for their commitment to CUMU and their work helping to program this year’s conference.

“I can’t imagine a better setting for this year’s theme. Our local CUMU members are not just leaders and anchors in Philadelphia, but they are leaders across higher education for how they are strategically aligning their assets with the needs of their region to create a stronger, more inclusive economy and more resilient neighborhoods,” said Lieberman, who serves as president of University of La Verne.

The opening plenary, ‘Beyond Engagement—The Urban Mission,’ highlighted how a multi-generational commitment to civic engagement can be both transformative and fully integrated into the core mission of the university. John Fry, president of Drexel University, was joined by Lucy Kerman, senior vice provost for university and community partnerships at Drexel University, and Dana Dornsife.

Following the opening plenary, presenters highlighted how they are working to integrate the urban mission into their work.

For anyone who missed Towson University librarian Joyce Garczynski’s lightning presentation ‘Sustaining the Community Engagement Revolution: The Campus Partner Who is All In’ you can read how librarians are the best community engagement partner to help get your work published, share your research, and connect with public libraries.

We closed out day one celebrating CUMU’s 30th Anniversary with great views of Philly and giveaways, including our popular CUMU socks.

Our poster session opened day two of the conference. Presentations ranged from addressing food insecurity on urban campuses to collective impact to supporting voting rights.

We closed out the morning with a plenary featuring provosts from three local institutions. ‘Academic Leadership and the Urban Mission’ showcased how these campuses are propelling the university’s social and moral obligation to serve community through its teaching, research, and service.

Data, data, data. Some of the most attended sessions focused on data. Others addressed racial justice and gentrification and how the urban mission is played out across the globe.

Tuesday’s afternoon plenary began with the presentation of the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, which recognizes the growing need for research-informed leadership in higher education. This year’s award was presented to Dr. Euan Hague, director of the School of Public Service at DePaul University and  professor in the Department of Geography.

Rutgers University–Camden closed out the afternoon plenary with ‘Increasing Access through Equity: How to Develop an “All-In” Strategy for Higher Education Success,’ which highlighted how Rutgers University–Camden is addressing access, college affordability, and student success efforts to holistically support students for a timely graduation.

Related story: Rutgers–Camden Presents Models of Achievement at National Urban Universities Conference

We closed out day two with a reception hosted by University of Pennsylvania at Pennovation, their campus’s innovation hub, business incubator, and laboratory that stimulates entrepreneurial activity.

Day three opened with more engaging lightning sessions, workshops, panel presentations, and best practices, including one from U3 Advisors highlighting their open-access tool Finding Potential Anchor Districts.

#CUMU2019 ended with our closing plenary, ‘Temple Talks Recidivism: Creating Opportunities for Returning Citizens on a University Campus.’ Lori Pompa, founder of the International Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, shared how the partnership between higher education and correction systems create opportunities to learn and foster civic engagement. She was joined by William Hart, joined by William Hart, administrator in the Temple University Office of Community Relations. Hart shared his testimony as an ex-offender who, upon release from prison, committed to serving others through social justice.

Thank you once again to everyone who made #CUMU2019 a success. Keep the conversation going on Twitter. Follow us @MetropolitanU.