Professional News

UK's Vasquez Heilig Named to Hispanics in Higher Education Board

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

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.

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.