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Ranking of Nation’s Top Public Influencers in Education Features UK College of Education Dean

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. (Jan. 11, 2021) — The 2022 ranking of the nation’s top public influencers in education features University of Kentucky College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig. 

The Rick Hess Straight Up Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, published annually by the American Enterprise Institute, is designed to recognize scholars who use their work to move ideas from journals to policy and practice.  

“It’s a data-informed effort to spur discussion about how scholars add value and which ones are doing so most effectively,” wrote Hess in his blog for Education Week. 

About 20,000 U.S. scholars tackling education questions in the U.S. could be considered, but only 200 are chosen. Vasquez Heilig has appeared on the list since 2014.

“As dean of the UK College of Education, and as a professor of educational policy studies and evaluation, nothing is more important to me than seeing our work make an impact on education policy and practice. We must perform our academic work, while also finding ways to share it publicly, where it matters most. By doing so, we can play a part in ensuring our nation’s students receive equitable and high-quality learning experiences,” Vasquez Heilig said. 

Vasquez Heilig’s efforts to shape public discussion are cataloged in his Cloaking Inequity blog, read by more than one million people. In December, his essay, “Scrutinizing the School Choice Equity Ethos for Black Parents,” was published in “Public Education: Defending an American Cornerstone,” edited by David Berliner and Carl Hermanns. In it, Vasquez Heilig provides analysis of whether the privatization of schooling leads to gains in student achievement and an increase in opportunity. 

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 US. 

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.