LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 1, 2021) — University of Kentucky College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig has been appointed to the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Board of Directors. His three-year term begins July 1.
“This is something I know would make my grandmothers proud, so I am serving in their memory. Since their time, Latinx have become the largest ethnic minority population in America, but are highly underrepresented in higher education, from academic leaders, to faculty positions, to student enrollment. Serving on the board of directors will provide me with additional avenues to create ways for more Latinx students to complete college degrees, choose career paths where they can make an impact, such as teaching, and pursue careers in higher education as faculty, administrators and policymakers. It is an honor to have this opportunity.”
The American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education works collaboratively with all sectors of education, business, industry, as well as community and professional organizations, to enhance the educational aspirations and to meet the needs of a significantly increasing Hispanic population.
“There is much more work to do and no doubt there will be more challenges ahead, but I am convinced that we will refuse to allow adversity to stop us from pressing forward and making an unmistakable and lasting impact,” Vasquez Heilig said.
Vasquez Heilig, a professor of educational policy studies and evaluation, has served as dean of the UK College of Education since 2019. He is an award-winning leader, teacher and researcher and dynamic voice for equity in education in the U.S. and around the world. Vasquez Heilig works to move ideas from academic journals into the national conversation, making academic research useful and relevant to policymakers and the communities they serve.
Vasquez Heilig previously served at California State University, Sacramento, as a professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the doctorate in educational leadership program. His work in higher education also includes serving on the faculty and as an academic leader at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2014.
A prolific scholar, in the last decade alone, Vasquez Heilig has been an author or co-author on more than 50 peer-reviewed journal and/or refereed articles or law reviews as well as chapters. Topics have been diverse in range and scope, covering issues such as racial equity and teacher preparation among many others.
He has been honored with more than 30 teaching, research and service recognitions, including a Ford Foundation Fellowship and being named Diversity in Education Magazine Multicultural Champion of 2015. Legislators commended his impact in education through the passage of California Assembly Resolution 1459. He currently serves as co-education chair for the Kentucky State Conference of the NAACP and on the board of the Schott Foundation.
Vasquez Heilig received his Ph.D. in educational administration and policy analysis and a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University. He also earned a master’s in higher education and a bachelor’s degree in history and psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.