Assistant LV Life Editor
President Devorah Lieberman was appointed to the executive committee of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities last month.
CUMU dedicates itself to promoting mutually beneficial relationships between higher education institutions and their surrounding communities.
One of only four universities represented on the executive committee, CUMU has recognized the University of La Verne as an institution that is dedicated to community partnerships.
“CUMU, which was founded 25 years ago, is unique and exciting for the University of La Verne,” Lieberman said. “Because when it was founded, it was founded by a group of presidents who said, ‘How can we be partners with the communities so that the community benefits from the partnership and we benefit from the partnership?’”
Lieberman’s passion and dedication to urban universities is what led to her nomination for the executive committee.
“Dr. Lieberman, from her background and overall experience, brings a really well-rounded perspective to the coalition,” said Bobbie Laur, coalition administrator.
“She is a dedicated positive power. All of the presidents on the executive committee have a students first perspective,” Laur said.
Urban and metropolitan universities often have a community surrounding their population. Direct contact between the universities and community members is the reason CUMU exists.
La Verne is an example of an urban or metropolitan university because it is set in a neighborhood.
The 85 institutions represented in the coalition all bring different perspective and experience to challenges that individual institutions face.
From planning to meet community needs to getting students involved in giving back to their environment, CUMU works to integrate as many partners as possible to benefit from mutual assets.
“Right now people from the University are meeting with the city of La Verne to say, ‘How can we partner with the Bonita building so that the University benefits and the city benefits?’ which is terrific,” Lieberman said.
“We have a very good relationship with the city of La Verne because we are always saying that we are partners,” she said.
One of the biggest goals of the coalition is to have higher education institutions working with their community partners to ensure adequate healthcare professionals meet the needs of their regions.
“We are going to take a look and create a network between universities and local hospitals,” Laur said.
Healthcare specifically is a project Lieberman is working on to meet the needs of La Verne’s local region.
“This area is going to need a lot of healthcare professionals,” Lieberman said.
“So what we are saying is, how can we partner with the other institutions of higher education with the hospitals (and) different organizations so that we are producing enough professionals in healthcare to meet the needs?”
Lieberman has many goals through CUMU, which include learning from other universities, as well as sharing what La Verne is doing to improve the community.
The coalition is also a way to have the University on the map, marking La Verne as a prominent institution.
“It feels to me that this national, well-thought of organization recognizes that the University of La Verne belongs in this organization,” Lieberman said. “I think the University should be honored, it is not about me, it is about the University.”
One of the University’s values, civic engagement, is another way for a mutually beneficial relationship to form between the campus and the community.
For example, on Martin Luther King Day of Service students helped to clear brush from around the Pomona Downtown Library. This project was completed more efficiently than would have been possible without volunteer assistance.
“These things show people in the city, the commitment La Verne has to the community and shows the quality and interest our students have with getting involved in the community,” said Marisol Morales, director of civic and community engagement.
CUMU can also be financially beneficial for the University because of contacts that Lieberman and the rest of her team will meet.
“CUMU will help us get more connected with grants and foundations so that they will say that they are interested in investing financially in what the University of La Verne is doing,” Lieberman said.
In the future, the coalition looks to expand its international membership and gather more data that universities can share in order to match solutions for similar issues.
Kellie Galentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.