Dr. LaVar Charleston Recognized as a National Leader in Academic Excellence

Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, UW-Madison vice provost, deputy vice chancellor for diversity & inclusion, chief diversity officer, and Elzie Higginbottom director of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA) won a Diamond Award from the Not Alone Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia on January 27, 2024. Charleston, who has served in these roles since 2021, was recognized in the category of Academic Leadership: Excellence in Higher Education. 

LaVar J. Charleston headshot photo
Dr. LaVar J. Charleston

Dr. Charleston, whose unwavering dedication to creating inclusive environments in academia and beyond for over two decades, accepted the prestigious award at the annual event in Atlanta, Georgia, at the historic Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Moorehouse College.  

Dr. Charleston’s wealth of academic accolades provide insight into why he was chosen for this award. Prior to his current role(s), Dr. Charleston served as the inaugural associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion at UW–Madison’s School of Education, where he is a clinical professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. In 2021, he was named to the Governor’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which provides strategic guidance to the Wisconsin government, promoting and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion practices statewide. Prior to that, he was named one of Wisconsin’s Most Influential Black Leaders by Madison365 as he served as the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s inaugural assistant vice chancellor for student diversity, engagement, and success. Dr. Charleston also helped found Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory and is credited on more than 50 publications.  

The Diamond Awards ceremony included lifetime achievement award winners and high-profile personalities, including Phylicia Rashad, Glynn Turman, and Senator Raphael Warnock, to name a few. 

Though the ceremony played host to many celebrities from all walks of life, the most meaningful aspect of its setting was the significance of where it was held and when. Almost two weeks following Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a few days before UW–Madison’s MLK Symposium, the award ceremony took place at the magnificent and historic Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The DDEEA strives to honor Dr. King’s legacy in all that they do, so this venue meant an immense amount to Dr. Charleston, especially since the King Chapel houses the work of scholars and spiritual and thought leaders who promote justice in reverence of Dr. King.  

“I am deeply honored to accept this Diamond Award and do so with a sense of responsibility to continue this vital work that others have initiated. May these recognitions inspire us all to bend that arc further and continue to strive for a more equitable and just society,” remarked Dr. Charleston regarding the award. 

The Not Alone Foundation is a non-profit organization that plays a key role in gathering crucial resources and providing them to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients and their families. The foundation uses its Diamond Awards to promote its mission to enhance the outcomes of CKD and ESRD patients and they honor excellence across a wide range of fields, including entertainment, corporate, and creative industries, highlighting professional accomplishments and contributions from a local to global scale.