Student Diversity, Engagement and Success

LaVar Charleston

Assistant Vice Chancellor
Student Diversity, Engagement and Success 

Office Location: 226 McCutchan Hall
Office Phone:

Dr. LaVar J. Charleston is the Assistant Vice Chancellor (AVC) for Student Diversity, Engagement and Success at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W). The Office of Student Diversity, Engagement and Success (SDES) supports the mission and core values of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) by providing programs that enhance, engage, and support students for success in their academic programs. As the AVC, he is responsible for managing multiple high impact educational practice programs including PreCollege Programs, the McNair Scholars Program, the Academic Network, Undergraduate Research Programs, the University Honors Program, the King/Chavez Scholars Program, Latino Student Programs and Community-Based Learning Programs. By engaging in collaborative relationships with faculty and staff in academic departments, student affairs leaders, university leaders, student leaders, student organizations and community partners, SDES programs foster a campus community that is characterized by inclusive excellence and that embraces the holistic educational experiences of all students at UW-W.

Charleston has collaborated on multimillion-dollar projects with diverse faculty, staff, and students from a range of disciplines, departments, and institution types (e.g., HBCUs, PWIs, 2-year institutions) throughout the country and the world. Through this work, he has been instrumental in receiving, facilitating, and/or evaluating research and education grants, projects and awards totaling approximately $8.2 million.

Dr. Charleston’s body of work focuses on graduate school preparation and success, with particular expertise in underrepresented student groups’ STEM Identity and development. Moreover, he has a special interest in the academic identity development of student athletes, particularly Black males, concentrating on their educational and occupational trajectories beyond sports. He is credited with over 45 publications comprised of journal articles, book chapters, scholarly reports, translational media outlets, and a recent book entitled, Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs (2017) published by Information Age. He has delivered over 80 presentations at local, national, and international venues, all in an effort to ensure that research, teaching, leadership and service practices are in line with empirically based, data-driven solutions that positively affect the educational development, outcomes, and equitable success of diverse students and faculty.

His scholarly work has received support from the Lumina Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Additionally, he has received numerous awards and recognitions for both his research and practical work in the higher education arena and within the community. Recent awards include the Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship (AERA 2016), the Black Alumni Award of Achievement (Ball State University 2016), and the Outstanding Educator Award of Excellence (100 Black Men of Madison 2015) to name a few. As the recipient of the 2016 Vallejo Memorial Emerging Scholar Award (AERA), his research was deemed profoundly impactful to the field of higher education more broadly with regard to pedagogy, research, and best practices.

Committed to both scholarship and service, Charleston is actively involved in several professional associations as well as civic-based community organizations. He is currently an editorial board member for the Journal of African American Males in Education, and a reviewer for the American Educational Research Journal (Social and Institutional Analysis), the Journal of Science Education and Technology, the Journal of Negro Education, and for AERA Open.

Charleston currently directs the Graduate School Academy, held annually at the International Colloquium for Black Males in Education. He is also a board member for the Brothers of the Academy organization. Charleston was a member of the inaugural staff at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After 7 years, Charleston transitioned from Wei LAB where he last served as Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate, and Coordinator for the Research and Evaluation Division. His other prior appointments include Assistant Director for Development and Marketing at the Center for African American Research and Policy (CAARP), as well as associate editor of the Annuals of the Next Generation journal. Dr. Charleston holds a B.S. in Public Relations (Ball State University) and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (University of Wisconsin-Madison).”