The Executive Committee of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities has named Valerie Holton, Ph.D., LCSW, to serve as CUMU’s executive director following a national search. Holton has served as interim executive director since February 2022.

“We are pleased to announce Valerie Holton as CUMU’s next executive director,” said William Covino, president of California State University, Los Angeles, and president of the CUMU Executive Committee.

“Valerie’s longstanding dedication to enriching the quality, scope, and visibility of CUMU, coupled with her keen grasp of the issues and questions that define and challenge higher education leadership, will lead to CUMU’s continued vigor and growth in the months and years ahead.”

For the past 34 years, CUMU has been the leading voice and forum for higher education leaders transforming the lives of students and energizing urban and metropolitan communities. As executive director, Holton envisions expanding CUMU’s impact by expanding the size, diversity and capacity of its member network, convening member institutions to develop and share effective strategies, and establishing the research infrastructure necessary to drive these efforts.

“Our urban and metropolitan campuses are on the front edge of what is happening in higher education and society. I’m honored to lead CUMU as we elevate and enhance the transformative and innovative work of our members to address persistent challenges and anticipate emergent opportunities affecting our local, regional and national communities,” said Holton.

Holton brings a rich and diverse set of professional experiences to the role, including serving as part of the CUMU’s leadership team as a senior fellow. She was named editor of Metropolitan Universities journal in 2016. She helped to direct the Coalition’s strategic planning and operational efforts to improve the member experience. She led the creation of the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, which is now in its fifth year, and the establishment of the Anchor Learning Network.

Holton’s involvement with CUMU continues to be grounded in her appreciation for how the Coalition helps its members contend with the complexities of this work. “CUMU exists, in part, to encourage its members to exchange ideas and examples of how to dismantle barriers to equitable, inclusive practices to seeing, valuing, and leveraging the diverse strengths within our institutions and communities. I am excited to support our members as they press forward with this critical dimension of our mission,” said Holton.