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Society & Culture

S7 E152: Educate To Activate: Two Married University DEI Professionals At Harvard & Wisconsin Offer Real Talk About Diversity And Belonging In College With Drs Sherri & LaVar Charleston

podcast June 14, 2022


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Dr. Alex Gee welcomes LaVar Charleston, PHD and Sherri Charleston to the show for a new series on Black power couples. Their conversation covers the evolution of the Chief Diversity Officer in higher education and understanding that a strategic approach to DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) in institutions is essential. The Charleston’s demonstrate how being a couple that are also “thought partners” makes them better at their jobs.

LaVar J. Charleston, Ph.D., is the deputy vice chancellor for diversity & inclusion at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In this role he serves as the chief diversity officer for the university as well as the Elzie Higginbottom vice provost and director of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

Sherri Ann Charleston serves as the first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) at Harvard University. She is one of the nation’s leading experts in diversity and higher education, and assumed her role in August 2020.

Dr. Charleston is a historian trained in U.S. history with a focus on race, women, gender, citizenship, and the law, and an attorney with a specialization in constitutional and employment law. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Affirmative Action Officer at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison. She was responsible for evaluating progress toward the goals of a campus-wide strategic diversity plan. During her leadership, she also oversaw the Office of Employee Disability Resources and undergraduate scholarship programs focused on recruiting and retaining students from historically underrepresented communities.

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