Register for the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars Founder's Dinner

Monday, September 18


Fern Young Auditorium

Register HERE! 

A big congratulations to our Assistant Vice Chancellor for SDES, Dr. Ozalle Toms for the release of her new book, "Letting Perserverance Finish". We are so proud of you, Dr. Oz!


"Letting Perserverance Finish" is a story of a young girl who experiences abuse, trauma at the hands of those who are supposed to protect her. She details experiences in foster care, self-destructive behaviors and how she perservered through it all.  This inspirational story is one of hope, faith, and forgiveness- A declaration that your past does not have to define your future.

SDES Welcomes Dr. Ana Caballero Mengibar as Director of the Undergraduate Research Program

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve as the new Director of the Undergraduate Research Program. As a first-generation college attendee of a humble family growing up in Spain, I quickly realized that my education became more meaningful by connecting with other cultures and by expanding my worldview. I believe my multicultural and undergraduate research experiences transformed me into a life long learner. I am excited and I am looking forward to continuing to advocate and support our students, and to be part of a program and a team of passionate colleagues offering superior, dynamic, and diverse high-learning experiences." 

Dr. Julie Janiak (UW-Whitewater @Rock County) is awarded the Academic Staff Development Award

May 2019


Dr. Julie Janiak, director of the TRIO student support program at UW-Whitewater at Rock County, has received the Academic Staff Development Award for her project titled COE Conference! The TRIO Student Support Services at Rock County operates under the “umbrella” of SDES and serves students who are first-generation, low-income and/or students with a disability and provides them with the skills and tools they need to be successful.

Under the supervision of the former SDES Assistant Vice Chancellor, Dr. LaVar Charleston, Dr. Janiak has received funding to attend The Council for Opportunity in Education conference in order to “expand college opportunities for low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.”  The conference, being held in Chicago this coming fall, focuses on getting more students to college while also giving them the support they need to be successful. Dr. Janiak hopes to increase the success rates of students who have earned an Associate’s Degree to a 4-year institution where they can continue their education. She also hopes to create more alliances between the two campuses, particularly in the areas of transfer and career advising. Overall, this will be a great experience as it will allow UW-Whitewater and UW-Rock County to build a partnership around improving student success! 

Assistant Vice Chancellor Charleston to be Honored at Bucks Game as Part of Wisconsin's 42 Most Influential Black Leaders 

March 2019


The Milwaukee Bucks will honor Wisconsin's 42 most influential Black leaders, which includes Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Diversity, Engagement and Success at UW-Whitewater, on March 24 th, 2019. These leaders, named to the Black Power list of 2018, will receive on-court recognition as the Bucks play against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game will take place at the new Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders said, "Every year, I've intended this [Black Power] list to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state. I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it's possible for African Americans to achieve great things here. This list is no longer just a list. It is also an invitation - an invitation to engage, to create, to make Wisconsin a better place for the next generation of leaders of color."

Charleston leads the Student Diversity, Engagement and Success department at UW-Whitewater and continually strives to promote their high impact educational practice programs that enhance, engage, and support students for success in their academic endeavors and beyond. He has led or 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. Charleston asserts that, "UW-Whitewater is truly a leader in Wisconsin, effectively preparing students to inspire, engage, and transform lives throughout the state, the country and indeed the world. I am truly honored to play my part as a member of the Warhawk family."  


Chan and Charleston Present at National Conference 

February 2019


Dr. Catherine Chan, Associate Professor and LEARN Center Fellow and Dr. LaVar Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Diversity, Engagement and Success (SDES) presented at the 2019 HIPs in the States Conference at Downing Student Union at Western Kentucky University last week. Their presentation, "Filling the Gap: Assessing and Communicating the Impact of Undergraduate Research," took place on Thursday, February 21. Their research presentation was based on data collected related to the Undergraduate Research Program, one of many high impact practice programs housed in UW-W's SDES department.

This was the second annual HIPs in the States National Conference, an informal community of college and university educators working to improve the definitions, tracking, and assessments of high-impact educational practices at public institutions.

Dr. John McGuigan Named Office of Global Experiences Director of at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

January 2018

McGuigan has been with UW-Whitewater since 2004, where he has been teaching British and Irish literature, writing, film studies, and screenwriting. Before UW-Whitewater, he received his Ph.D. from UW-Madison and spent two years at the University of Michigan. As a scholar, his work focuses on the Irish writer James Joyce and other writers of the early twentieth century. He enjoys studying and teaching film, and continues to try his hand at screenwriting.

"John brings several years of experience teaching abroad and leading several travel studies to this new role as faculty director of OGE. Student Diversity, Engagement and Success is excited to have his leadership as we collaboratively seek to increase and enhance abroad experiences for students throughout campus," said Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES. "His excitement about the role is truly contagious."

As director, McGuigan will oversee UW-Whitewater's study abroad and exchange agreements, international student and faculty immigration matters, and faculty-led travel studies.

When asked about new projects or goals he wants to undertake at the Office of Global Experiences, McGuigan said, "My ultimate goal is make study abroad part of campus culture. I want students to know what's available and that it is both affordable and doable with their graduation timeline. I also want faculty to know what's out there and how they can become a part of it."

McGuigan will begin his post January 8.

"I am thrilled to be joining SDES and leading the Global Experiences program. I have always felt very strongly about studying abroad and look forward to being fully engaged with it on campus," said McGuigan. "It was a transformative experience for me when I went to college, and it has been for students I've led on trips to Ireland and Scotland. I want every Whitewater student to have that experience. I will be working to increase the number of students traveling out of the country and those within the National Student Exchange."  

UW-Whitewater Recognized at International Conference on Urban Education

November 2018


Among several other national treasures, UW-Whitewater’s Office of Student Diversity, Engagement and Success (SDES) was recognized and honored at an award ceremony at the International Conference on Urban Education (ICUE) on Thursday, November 8th in Nassau, Bahamas for their support of initiatives designed to positively impact urban youth. 


A delegation of 10 faculty, staff and students represented UW-Whitewater at the solutions-based, global biennial event designed to share best practices that enable urban youth to reach their full academic potential. 


Among the research presented at this conference was Dr. Ozalle M. Toms’ work on “Assessing the Diversity Related Professional Development Needs of Pre-Service Teachers” and “Strategies for Supporting Urban Youth Who Are in Foster Care.”


Dr. Toms noted, “It was an honor to be accepted to present my research on the needs of preparing pre-service teachers to teach in diverse settings. My findings are pertinent because of the projected racial diversity of U.S. schools by the year 2024. Also since 2013, the number of children in foster care has steadily been over 400,000. Knowledge of strategies on how to support these students is critical. I enjoyed engaging with other students, scholars, administrators and classroom teachers whose focus is on supporting urban learners.”


Additionally, UW-Whitewater’s work on High Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) was highlighted in a feature session by Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES, Dr. LaVar J. Charleston. This session was called, “Navigating Possibilities: African American Males, the Workforce and the New Millennial.” It addressed new possibilities to increase African American male K-12 and millennial student participation in the workforce through education, entrepreneurship and leveraging new media opportunities. Charleston’s co-presenters in this session included Executive Director of ICUE and Carol Grotnes Distinguished Professor of Urban Education, Dr. Chance W. Lewis, as well as Drs. Jerlando F. L. Jackson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jamal Watson, editor of Diverse Issues in Higher Education.


Dr. Charleston said, “As this was indeed a solutions-based conference, our (UW-W’s) model for equity minded engagement in HIPs served as exemplars for key stakeholders throughout the educational pipeline. I am honored that our work is being used to help K-16 faculty, staff, students, and other concerned citizens engage historically marginalized students in activities that facilitate out of classroom learning, meaningful engagement with faculty and students, collaboration with diverse peers and mentors, and opportunities for substantive feedback. This work is being exposed on a regional, national and international scale which truly embodies the Wisconsin Idea.” 


In addition to traditional engagement in conference activities, UW-Whitewater graduate and undergraduate students also participated in cultural immersion experiences while on the island. 


Imani Barnes, SDES Graduate Administrative Fellow and Higher Education Leadership graduate student said, "I am very appreciative of SDES and Dr. Charleston for seeing that this opportunity would not only be good professional development, but also a chance to immerse ourselves in a new culture. I enjoyed learning about the Bahamian culture, bonding with colleagues, and learning about how I can add more value to the Higher Education space. I look forward to applying all that I have learned to my work."


Michael Lozano, senior International Business major and Spanish minor and Undergraduate Coordinator for Latino Student Programs indicated this conference reassured him of his desire to pursue his Ph.D. in higher education. “I met people with the same passion as teachers who were more than willing to help me in pursuing higher education. Not only did I meet people, but I also learned so much from others at the workshops. Seeing people who look like me only made me realize that I too can be them. Before I went to the International Conference on Urban Education, I wasn’t too sure about my Ph.D. This conference really helped me narrow it down and I’ve now decided I will be getting my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis,” said Lozano.


SDES would like to thank the attending students and faculty for representing UW-Whitewater and championing the Warhawk spirit internationally.

Written by Kayla Daum and Dr. LaVar Charleston

SDES Students Participate in Distinguished International Conference in Ireland

October 30th, 2018


Student Diversity, Engagement and Success (SDES) sent four accomplished and motivated SDES undergraduate students to the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (ICBME) in Dublin, Ireland this past week. The four SDES students, Natara Boatman, Shante Fossie, Deonte Iverson, and Devante Simmons presented their research and listened to some established and renowned speakers at the colloquium, as well as attended a Graduate School Academy led by Dr. LaVar Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES. Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at UW-W provided the keynote address at the academy.

Elite students from all over the world attended the Graduate School Academy at ICBME. Deonte Iverson, SDES McNair student, spoke of his experience at the academy: “The biggest component that I learned was not only the importance of networking, but how central it is to your graduate school application. That’s not explicitly stated by anyone, but it’s apparent as a factor after listening to the panel. Getting to know the faculty, understanding their research and being able to talk about their research is vital to getting into those graduate programs.”

The four SDES students shared their research in the form of poster presentations during the colloquium. Many people hovered around their posters, asking questions and admiring the hard work and research SDES students put into their projects. It also gave the students another opportunity to meet and interact with established professionals from around the world.

 “I am very excited for our students and how they performed. This gave them an opportunity to not only showcase their work, but also interact with renowned faculty, as well as other students from across the globe. This opportunity provided a socialization experience very difficult to replicate at many US colleges and universities as many of the renowned faculty present had backgrounds similar to the students,” said Dr. Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES.

When asked about her experience at the colloquium, Natara Boatman, SDES King Chávez scholar, said, “I loved getting to experience what life is like in Ireland. It was very educational, especially to see African Americans come together to speak on issues within our community.”

Devante Simmons, senior SDES McNair Scholar, spoke of a powerful aspect of the colloquium: defying labels and stereotypes. “To see African Americans just, you know, not perpetuating all of the negative stereotypes surrounding African Americans, showing the other side, the side that doesn’t get any notoriety or coverage. And all of us in one room, people with their doctorates, people with their masters, and us, still in the process of getting our bachelor’s degrees, just to see us all in one room together working towards a better cause. It was special.”

Shante Fossie, a senior McNair scholar, said that her favorite speaker was Shane O’Curry. Shane O’Curry is the National Platform Coordinator of the European Network Against Racism. He spoke on “A Prologue of Blackness in Ireland” and the discrimination that Irish citizens had to overcome throughout the decades, an issue that still has lingering effects today. “It made me realize the real history of Ireland. Because at first I was questioning why we were in Ireland. Specifically, what does this colloquium have to do with Ireland. But it showed me that there is correlation between the Irish and African Americans as well,” said Shante.

The colloquium concluded with a banquet dinner, where Warrior Spirit Awards were presented to four outstanding people. The awards were introduced by Major General Marcia Andersen, the first African-American woman to become a major general in the United States Army . Wei LAB Director and co-founder of ICBME,Dr . Jerlando F. L. Jackson said, “7 years ago, what we wanted to do with this event was to also acknowledge those warriors who have been fighting for decades on behalf of black males, that have probably never been told thank you. We wanted to honor them and archive them along with the work that we plan to do for a very long time.”

The chance to attend this distinguished colloquium was not lost on UW-Whitewater’s SDES students. Deonte Iverson, senior SDES McNair scholar, noted that it was a unique opportunity and said, “I’m very thankful for this trip because it allowed us to see what we can be, and what we aspire to be, and give us examples to look towards, and people to contact if we have questions.”

Shante added, “Overall, I think it was a great trip. It was very insightful. I learned a lot about Ireland, and about us. It was good that it was black people doing excellent things in the professional world. That’s one of the things I thought was great, because in the news you see us in a stereotypical way but seeing all of the professional people at this conference was amazing. I aspire to be like them one day.”

SDES wants to thank Devonte, Natara, Shante and Deonte for their hard work and for representing UW-Whitewater at the colloquium.

To view more photos from that week, “Like us” on Facebook by visiting our Facebook page at

Written by Kayla Daum

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