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University of Phoenix establishes Juneteenth as an annual company holiday

By Sharla Hooper

Adoption of Juneteenth holiday reflects university commitment to students and staff

University of Phoenix has established Juneteenth as an annual paid company holiday for staff. Juneteenth will also be a holiday from classes for students. This year, the University will recognize the Juneteenth holiday on Monday, June 20.

Although President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment on Feb. 1, 1865, word of emancipation did not fully reach all who were enslaved until June 19, 1865, when the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and delivered the news. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the accompanying social justice movement that illuminated systemic racism against Black Americans, the federal government established Juneteenth, or June 19, as a permanent federal holiday.

“The University of Phoenix continually creates opportunities to have transparent and honest conversations led by our staff, faculty and students about how we can honor and uplift our own communities and those we serve,” states Cheryl Naumann, chief human resources officer of University of Phoenix. “Making Juneteenth a permanent holiday creates space and time for reflection, honoring individual experiences, and always considering what more we can do.”

University of Phoenix is committed to creating diverse, equitable and inclusive environments where all can feel they belong and can thrive. Constantly evolving efforts prioritize the needs of diverse students, faculty and staff who work to increase students’ access to and participation in higher education through actions including active employee resource groups (ERGs), community engagement, and the regular review of curriculum for bias and inclusive content, among other actions.

In April 2022, the University held its first Inclusive Leadership Summit and each month, the Office of Educational Equity, focused on serving the University’s students, alumni, community and alliances, holds Educational Equity webinars. The next Educational Equity webinar will be held June 16 and is open for registration. Internally, the University provides an Inclusive Café, a virtual place for staff to gather, connect, and build community through biweekly sessions focused on topics designed to discuss diverse perspectives and generate compassionate conversation.

University of Phoenix faculty and staff also have an annual and voluntary 21-Day Equity Habit Building Challenge, with the purpose to come together to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect individuals and communities. University faculty and staff collaborate with ERGs, the Center for Workplace and Diversity Inclusion Research (CWDIR) housed in the College of Doctoral Studies, and other departments across the university to design programs and services that promote understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit