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University of Phoenix Office of Educational Equity honored by 2023 UPCEA Leadership In Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award

By Sharla Hooper

Association award recognizes Office of Educational Equity as exemplary program representing best practices and demonstrating positive impact in promoting cultural shift and excellence in diversity and inclusion

University of Phoenix is proud to announce that the Office of Educational Equity is the recipient of the UPCEA® Leadership In Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award for 2023. UPCEA is the association for college and university leaders in professional, continuing, and online education, and 2023 Association Awards program includes recognition of both individual and institutional achievement across the UPCEA membership. Award recipients will be honored at the 2023 UPCEA Annual Conference, March 22-24 in Washington, D.C.

“Our Office of Educational Equity and stellar team members are focused on fostering a sense of belonging for all,” states John Woods, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer. “Their collaborative work to help us create an inclusive learning environment and workplace has a meaningful and lasting effect on the culture and engagement we establish with students, faculty and staff.”

The UPCEA Leadership In Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award recognizes a program that represents best practices and demonstrates positive impact in promoting cultural shifts in the organization that promotes diversity and inclusive excellence, work that is advanced across the University of Phoenix by the Office of Educational Equity.

The activities of the Office of Educational Equity at the University of Phoenix are directed by Tondra Richardson, MBA, director of Student Diversity & Inclusion and Saray Lopez, MBA, director of Student Diversity & Inclusion.  The office is situated within Accessibility, Equity and Inclusion and works to promote cultural understanding, provide thought leadership, develop community partnerships and deliver direct service and professional development programs to support an institutional commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence.

“Students who feel included and like they belong at their institutions are more likely to complete their courses,” states Kelly Hermann, vice president of Accessibility, Equity and Inclusion. “The work our Office of Educational Equity does to create this connection and sense of belonging among our students is critical to our commitment to deliver high quality, career relevant education to our students.”

Richardson and Lopez were both honorees of the 2022 class of leading women in higher education by the publication, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

The Office of Educational Equity leads internal and external initiatives promoting understanding and inclusive practices throughout the University, aligning with the University of Phoenix President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). The Office hosts a monthly Educational Equity webinar series and leads the planning of the Inclusive Leadership Summit, a public event that invites participants to develop inclusive leadership skills with a focus on tracks in leadership management, education and healthcare.

The Office also hosts the Inclusive Café, a virtual place for staff to gather, connect, and build community through monthly sessions focused on topics designed to discuss diverse perspectives and generate compassionate conversation.

Office staff also engage in collaborative projects designed to create more inclusive learning environments and course content, partner with the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and the University’s research centers in the College of Doctoral Studies, and provide direction for the recognized student organization program, which seeks to engage students and alumni with the skills to balance academic, professional, familial, and personal responsibilities as well as bridge the gap between education and the workplace.​​

UPCEA reviews institutions providing online education and identifies whether they meet seven different Hallmarks of excellence. In 2021, University of Phoenix was recognized by UPCEA in achieving recognition across all seven.

Learn more about UPCEA here.

About University of Phoenix

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