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LaVar J. Charleston

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.