Metropolitan University Background:
Twenty years ago, convinced that the nation’s state and land-grant universities faced deep, even historic structural changes in the coming years, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges sought support from the Kellogg Foundation to examine the future of public higher education.
In 1999, the Kellogg Commission of distinguished academicians reported that “the tried-and-true formula of teaching, research, and service no longer serves adequately as a statement of our mission and objectives. The growing democratization of higher education, the greater capacity of today’s students to shape and guide their own learning, and the burgeoning demands of the modern world require us to think, instead, of learning, discovery, and engagement....
“Our universities need to return to their roots in rural America with new energy for today’s new problems.... We need a new emphasis on urban revitalization and community renewal comparable in its own way to our rural development efforts in the last century.... We need to redouble our efforts to improve and conserve our environment and natural resources....
“Among the significant problems facing society today are challenges of creating genuine learning communities, encouraging lifelong learning, finding effective ways to overcome barriers to change, and building greater social and human capital in our communities.... Close partnerships with the surrounding community help demonstrate that higher education is about important values such as informed citizenship and a sense of responsibility. The newer forms of public scholarship and community-based learning help produce civic-minded graduates who are as well-prepared to take up the complex problems of our society as they are to succeed in their careers.”
At much the same time, a new association of American colleges and universities was founded by a group of university presidents who shared a vision of a distinct urban/metropolitan mission for their institutions, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, or CUMU. What these institutions – now numbering nearly one hundred – share is a purposeful and systematic commitment to the place in which each resides, an abiding engagement and mutually beneficial relationship with their communities and their needs.
In Fall 2013, faced with a “perfect storm” of changing demographics, diminished state appropriations, and unprecedented competition in the marketplace for higher education, USM undertook a “Direction Package” process to assess its future identity, needs, and resource allocations. From this process in Spring 2014 emerged a widespread consensus, internal and external , that USM would best build upon its established strengths and assets by joining this movement of universities engaged to improve their communities through teaching, learning, and productive, mutually respectful and beneficial engagement.
 Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-grant Universities, Returning to Our Roots: Executive Summaries, 1999.
 Including USM’s own at the time, President Patricia Plante.
 See Steven Diner, 2010 Presidential Address, Metropolitan Universities Journal, July 2010.