UPCEA's Commitment to Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

UPCEA is a diverse, inclusive organization supporting and welcoming individual and institutional diversity. We strive for diversity in membership and leadership, including representation from all types of institutions and individuals from all races, genders, and backgrounds.

Our Commitment
UPCEA calls on all members and member institutions to assume personal and institutional responsibility for the recognition and elimination of inequity and barriers to member engagement or success. Accepting such challenges will help us build an inclusive peer group, where people feel a truer sense of community and an authentic sense of belonging.

UPCEA encourages all to respect the value of diversity. Each of us is unique and we each bring our own values and life experiences to our various institutions and affiliated organizations. When we respect the viewpoints, values, talents and experiences of others, we all benefit from the creative and innovative ideas generated through our open discussions and interactions. Understanding we will not always get it right, our intentional and relentless pursuit of human equity, co-existence and inclusion is conscious and genuine.

As a committed body of diverse members, UPCEA pledges to forever strive for inclusive excellence as we serve as an essential industry resource.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vision Statement
UPCEA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion will have a positive impact on the association, its members, and higher education at large by providing opportunities for professional members of all backgrounds and lived experiences to learn, grow, and connect and promote positive change at member institutions.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Definitions

UPCEA’s Board of Directors elected to define these terms for online and professional continuing education contexts and stakeholders.

Diversity is individual, group, and social differences. Differences can include, but are not limited to race, ethnicity, class, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability. Diversity includes prior knowledge and life experiences as well as cultural, political, religious, and other personal affiliations.

Equity is the achievement of just treatment, access, and opportunity by identifying and eliminating barriers that prevent full participation, professional development, and career advancement.

Inclusion is the practice of active, intentional, and ongoing engagement of all UPCEA members.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Principles
UPCEA is committed to the achievement of diversity, equity, and inclusivity by recognizing the needs of individuals and institutions within the higher education community. These principles will be achieved through:

  • Institutional and organizational members – The association’s membership is comprised of entities with varied missions and constituencies that share the values and goals of increasing access to higher education;
  • Professional members - Institutional representatives are encouraged to build diverse teams and to populate their UPCEA membership rosters accordingly. UPCEA is committed to offering content that is relevant to all practitioners within professional, continuing, and online enterprises;
  • UPCEA’s leadership - Volunteers within UPCEA, including those who serve on the Board of Directors, the Networks, the Regions and in other roles, will represent the diversity within UPCEA.

The Bethaida “Bea” González Diversity in Leadership Scholars Program

In an effort to professionalize and elevate the field of Online and Professional Continuing Education UPCEA launched a series of Online Professional Development programs. As we examined the unique challenges of the profession, the importance of representative and diverse leadership—a cornerstone of UPCEA’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusive Excellence—came to the forefront. To address this need, we have established the Bethaida “Bea” González Diversity in Leadership Scholars program with the goal of equipping underrepresented professionals at any stage of their career with the skills and knowledge needed to move into leadership positions on campus, in the field of PCO, and in UPCEA, through the issuance of full scholarships for the UPCEA PCO Certificate Programs. Both certificates consist of five, four-week courses each.

UPCEA PCO Certificate Program Scholarships:

Application Process:
Individuals who identify as a member of one or more diverse groups are encouraged to apply by submitting a curriculum vitae, a brief note of support (300 words or fewer) from a senior leader or supervisor at their institution, and a brief essay of no more than one page (single spaced) that addresses the following questions:

  • How will completing this program help you achieve your career aspirations?
  • How do you hope to contribute to your campus and the communities it serves?
  • How do you hope to contribute to the PCO profession?

Application Deadline: Applications for the 2024 cohort of Diversity in Leadership scholars will open in spring 2024.

A selection committee will consider all applications and choose 5-7 individuals to each receive a full scholarship for the UPCEA PCO Professional Certificate or the PCO Leader Certificate (both certificates consist of five courses). This program is only open to UPCEA members. 


Learn more about the 2021 cohort of Diversity in Leadership Scholars here. Learn more about the 2022 cohort of Diversity in Leadership Scholars here. Learn more about the 2023 cohort of Diversity in Leadership Scholars here.

Read more about “Bea” González and the Diversity in Leadership Scholars program.

Bethaida “Bea” González, born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, and a long-time resident of Syracuse, New York, has almost 40 years of experience in higher education administration and continuing education, as well as a distinguished record of public service.

González joined Syracuse University's University College (UC) in 1984 as an academic advisor and quickly rose through the ranks. After serving as associate dean at UC, she was appointed Interim Dean in 2004 and Dean 2007. In 2014, she was appointed Special Assistant to the Chancellor and in 2017 she was appointed Vice President for Community Engagement.

In addition to being recognized with numerous awards and honors for outstanding leadership in public and community service, González has been elected to public office three times. In fall 2001, González was the first Latina elected president of the Common Council for the City of Syracuse.

González served in various volunteer leadership capacities in UPCEA over the years, including as 2014-15 UPCEA President. She was also the 2017 recipient of UPCEA’s Julius M. Nolte Award for Extraordinary Leadership, which is the association’s highest honor.

UPCEA Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee 

The UPCEA Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee exemplifies UPCEA’s commitment to inclusive excellence and the following core principles, established in 2017 and updated in 2019:

  • Seeking institutional members from all sectors of higher education;
  • Welcoming all individual members of all identities and lived experiences;
  • Recruiting diverse corporate partners who share the values and goals of increasing access to higher education;
  • Offering content and programming reflective of its commitment to
  • diversity and inclusion.

2024-25 Committee Members

Mili Maldonado, Co-Chair, Universidad Del Sagrado Corazón

Pam Wimbush, Co-Chair, University of California, Sacramento

McCeil Johnson, University of Phoenix

Fatimah Wirth, Georgia Institute of Technology

Carol Hoshiko, Kapiolani Community College

Tiffany Townsend, Purdue University Global

Noah Geisel, University of Colorado, Boulder

Jennifer Schwedler, University of California, Davis

Denise Lauritano, University of British Columbia

Christy Jersin Woods, Colorado State University

Elizabeth Valencia-Borgert, St. Cloud State University

Isaac Garcia-Sitton, University of Toronto

Graham Tutti, Traction Rec for Education

Phyllis Watson, Florida A&M University

Nilajah Nyasuma Sims, Morgan State University

UPCEA Board Members and Staff:

Cheryl Murphy, University of Arkansas

Julie Uranis, UPCEA

The UPCEA Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee meets monthly for about one hour. If you are interested in joining the committee, please email [email protected].