Professional News

Vasquez Heilig Represents UK College of Education on Justice, Equity Initiative

Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education Julian Vasquez Heilig
Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education Julian Vasquez Heilig

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2020) — University of Kentucky College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig has been named a member of the steering committee for Education Deans for Justice and Equity (EDJE) — a growing alliance of deans of colleges and schools of education across the country. 

The group was formed in 2016 to help college leaders address inequities and injustices in education through policy, research and practice. Vasquez Heilig is committed to furthering his work in advancing these issues in education through the leadership position. 

“Education schools across the nation have deep expertise and valuable research among our faculty, helping to inform steps we, as a nation, can take to confront the problems and possibilities that surround America’s public schools,” Vasquez Heilig said. “This is something our UK College of Education students, faculty and staff do well, addressing state and local needs through research and service. I am honored to have the opportunity to share their work through this national platform.” 

As dean of the UK College of Education, Vasquez Heilig has focused on highlighting the aspects of the college’s work that are making an impact. 

“As academic leaders, we must be sure the work our colleges are doing is community-engaged, relevant to what teachers, students and communities need. We cannot let our work sit in an ivory tower. It needs to be applied to problems that people in schools and communities are facing. The collective voice of Education Deans for Justice and Equity is working to ensure that colleges across the country are using our academic work to dismantle and rebuild any structures that discriminate, exclude, or hold our children back, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the steering committee and help guide the conversation.” 

Over the past year, Vasquez Heilig has worked to establish a groundbreaking collaboration between the UK College of Education and the NAACP, the nation’s largest and most preeminent civil rights organization. The Education and Civil Rights Initiative at the University of Kentucky College of Education is a first-ever collaboration between a university and the NAACP, designed to produce the scientific evidence needed to help policy-makers reach decisions and transform lives.  

Through the collaboration, the education and civil rights work taking place at the UK College of Education will be amplified through the NAACP’s various networks, Vasquez Heilig said. 

Vasquez Heilig is ranked among the top public influencers shaping educational practice and policy in the U.S. by creating public conversations around education-focused issues. His efforts to shape public discussion are cataloged in his Cloaking Inequity blog, read by more than one million people. His work, largely focused on equity and inclusion in education, has been cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, USA Today, Education Week, Huffington Post and other print and electronic media outlets. He has also appeared to discuss his research on local and national radio and TV including PBS, NBC, NPR, Univision and MSNBC. Notably, Harvard’s Education Next magazine once named him as one of the top 10 education policy voices — the #2 ranked professor in the U.S. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.