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Racial Justice and the Mission of Professional, Continuing, and Online Education

UPCEA and its members are deeply troubled by the recent senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, and the lives taken before him. Many others have been affected in the wake of these tragedies. This, combined with the health care disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the systemic racism that people of color continue to face in our society.


UPCEA and its members play a critical role in transforming individual lives and, by extension, society as a whole. Together, we provide access to higher education and the opportunities it affords, and in doing so support the needs of our local communities. We thank our members for doing this work at their institutions and as part of the UPCEA community. Achieving our collective goals is especially challenging now, as we work to address systemic barriers to access, whether social, racial, cultural, digital, or economic. This work is often complex and difficult, and we are proud of our members for choosing to engage in it.


Challenging times such as these call us to reground and recommit ourselves to our shared principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. As UPCEA’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusive Excellence declares:
  • “UPCEA calls on all members and member institutions to assume personal and institutional responsibility for the recognition and elimination of inequity and barriers to access and success.” We are called to first listen and then take meaningful, outcomes-focused action; and identify and eradicate systemic racism or injustice as individuals, as institutions, and as members of UPCEA.


  • “UPCEA encourages all to respect the value of diversity; when we respect the viewpoints, values, talents and experiences of others, we all benefit.” We are called to not just value diversity but to actively seek out the viewpoints, talents, and experiences of the diverse array of individuals in our communities and to cooperate and collaborate with them; and to proactively identify and overcome our unconscious biases.


  • “Understanding we will not always get it right, our intentional and relentless pursuit of human equity, co-existence and inclusion is conscious and genuine.” We are called to initiate and engage in dialogue and actions about race and social justice in the context of professional, continuing, and online education, some of which may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable and that challenge the mindset of ourselves and our institutions.


We are committed to living these values on a daily basis in the service of our mission: meeting the needs of society through professional, continuing, and online education. Our nation’s current climate has once again presented us with an opportunity to stand up for equality for all, to listen to the concerns and perspectives of those whose voices are often ignored or marginalized, and to endeavor to make diversity and inclusiveness core values of our institutions, our culture and our society.


Christina Sax, Ph.D.
Provost & VP Academic & Student Affairs, Maryland University of lntegrative Health
Chair, UPCEA Committee for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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