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.
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.