Charleston named School of Education’s associate dean for diversity and inclusion

In this role, Charleston will serve on the dean’s leadership team and will lead the creation of a new School of Education Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Charleston is joining the School of Education as the inaugural associate dean for diversity and inclusion,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess, who holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. “He is a dynamic and thoughtful leader with just the right mix of extensive experience and exceptional skills to lead the development of the new office of Diversity and Inclusion.

portrait of diversity and inclusion director lavar charleston

Charleston, an alumnus of UW–Madison’s School of Education, has served since the summer of 2017 as UW–Whitewater’s assistant vice chancellor of student diversity, engagement, and success.

In his new position, Charleston will be providing leadership to faculty, staff, and students in developing and implementing strategic initiatives that promote the School of Education and UW–Madison’s mission for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Similarly, he will lead efforts to implement and review diversity-related policies and procedures that support School of Education programming and planning to foster a diverse and inclusive community.

“It is an honor to return to the School of Education that has poured so much into me when I was an early career scholar engaged in critical concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion within higher education,” says Charleston. “I appreciate the vision of Dean Hess to incorporate Inclusive Excellence into the fabric of all of our programs, policies, and practices. As my entire career within higher education has been dedicated to creating equitable and inclusive working and learning environments, I look forward to instituting what I’ve learned throughout the years to contribute to the inclusive dynamism of the School of Education’s students, staff, faculty, and overall community.”

Prior to his work at UW–Whitewater, Charleston from 2012 to 2017 was part of the team that helped launch Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB), which promotes equitable environments for learning and working in higher education. The Wei LAB is housed in the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research. At the time he was hired by UW–Whitewater, Charleston was serving as assistant director and a senior research associate of the Wei Lab, and serving as the coordinator for the lab’s research and evaluation division.

Charleston, who lettered in football as an undergraduate at Ball State University, also helped to develop Beyond the Game, a curriculum that helps student-athletes plan for careers outside professional sports. The program, which has been used at UW–Madison, was designed to help African American, male college athletes more strongly identify with the academic side of their student experience.

Charleston received both his master’s degree (2007) and PhD (2010) from the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He also taught courses on leadership and intersecting identities for that department.

Charleston is an expert in the kinds of support students need to stay enrolled and succeed in college and in how to help them prepare for graduate school. He has also studied how to motivate more students from underrepresented groups toward career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In February, the Wisconsin Alumni Association presented Charleston with a 2019 Forward Under 40 Award, which honors UW–Madison alumni under the age of 40 who are living the Wisconsin Idea, leveraging the benefits of their education to better their cities, states, nation, and even the world. Charleston was recognized for making waves of change, with colleges and universities at home and abroad looking to him for his voice and award-winning scholarship exploring how more students can access higher education.