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Our Mission in Wake of Breonna Taylor Case Decision

photo of UK College of Education dean Julian Vasquez Heilig
Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig

In light of today’s announcement in the Breonna Taylor case we are reflecting on our values as a college. Our mission focuses on providing leadership in the improvement of the education, health, and well-being of citizens in the Commonwealth, the nation and the world. If we do not prioritize helping to end the social structures that contribute to racism and violence against minorities, we will be far from fulfilling our mission.

As an institution that prepares future teachers, counselors, and health professionals, the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UK College of Education are in a position to uplift vulnerable populations. Our students – the next generation – will enter careers where they can play important roles in dismantling inequitable structures and norms that persist. We are committed to ensuring our students graduate from our college with a strong foundation in anti-racist practices they can value and adhere to in their careers.

We are doubling down in our work to embed discussions about racism and social justice throughout our curriculum.We will continue to seek ways to provide a necessary and valuable lens through which our students can prepare for their careers and include inclusive practices in their own future work.

Through our new Education and Civil Rights Initiative, in partnership with the NAACP, we are committed to conducting research focused on ensuring children across the U.S. have access to a quality education, no matter their income, race or ability. This research will be disseminated in such a way that it can be used to help transform prospects for the millions of students in our nation who lack access to a high-quality education where they feel safe and supported. 

We are committed to these efforts while grieving the fact that we will not be able to change the tragedies of our recent past and those that have persisted since our nation was founded. We hold on to the hope that the sense of urgency and responsibility we are feeling is shared across our nation. We all have a part to play. We will do our part to ensure every person who touches our college leaves it able to recognize and deconstruct the systems that benefit some, while disadvantaging others. 

The UK Counseling Center is available to students, who we know will have questions and harbor pain during this time. You can go here for information on services, or call 859-257-8701 for more instructions. The MLK Center, located within Gatton Student Center, is also a space to gather, grieve, and process.

Signature of Julian Vasquez Heilig




Julian Vasquez Heilig
Dean, University of Kentucky College of Education
Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation