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Top 5 takeaways from the CUMU conference

Didn’t get to attend the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities conference this week? Here’s what you missed.

October 12, 2017

CUMU ConferenceThe Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities held its annual conference in Denver this week, drawing nearly 400 people from across the country to discuss the future of urban education. The conference featured great workshops and conversations, and of course, plenty of networking.

MSU Denver co-hosted the three-day event with University of Colorado Denver and the University of Denver, and also served on the conference planning committee.

“CUMU was intrigued by Denver in large part because of our past work with them,” said Cathy Lucas, chief of staff and chief communications officer. “When the coalition expressed interest in bringing the conference here, we reached out to CU Denver and DU to see if they would co-host with us.”

For those who couldn’t make it, here are five high-level takeaways intended to inspire your work.

1. Being urban is an advantage
Most Roadrunners already know it, but the rest of the country is finally starting to see that universities located in urban areas have a distinct advantage. Young people are flocking to cities in increasing numbers and they want the convenience of going to school where they live. Of course, universities in major metropolitan areas also have easy access to industry and cultural institutions, making for natural partnerships and plenty of internship opportunities. It’s a good time to be an urban university!

2. You can’t communicate enough
If there was one theme that came up in every session during the conference, it was the importance of communicating well internally. The consensus? Faculty and staff tend to be better at doing things than talking about them. But to be efficient and successful, we need to share all the amazing things we’re working on with one another. In that spirit, don’t forget you can submit story ideas to the Early Bird at this email:

3. Partnerships and community engagement are all the rage
With state funding on the decline, universities are turning to public-private partnerships to generate revenue while also providing real-world training for students. And as you know, MSU Denver has been a leader in that area. Steve Kreidler, vice president for administration, presented on the topic at the conference. Provost Vicki Golich and Deputy Provost Sandra Haynes also led a workshop called “Matching Academic Offerings, Facility Construction and Industry Needs,” which also highlighted the University’s partnerships.

4. Optimism is in the air
If you’ve listened to the national news lately, then you’ve probably heard stories questioning the value of higher education. That negativity was nowhere to be seen at the CUMU conference. In fact, the prevailing feeling was one of optimism as urban universities see themselves as the answer to people’s skepticism about higher education. For example, urban universities generally offer lower tuition rates while also making it convenient for students to work while going to school, and thus accruing much less, if any, student debt.

5. MSU Denver was the talk of the town
Roadrunners represented at the CUMU conference. There seemed to be multiple MSU Denver people in every session, if not leading the presentations. As a result, a lot more people now know about the amazing work happening at the University. A major highlight of the conference was the Welcome Reception, hosted at the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center. President Davidson gave the opening remarks and guests were treated to a wine and food pairing and tours of the HLC. People were still buzzing about the facility and the University the following day.

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