CofC’s new dean of admissions talks about collaboration, community, concerts

It’s a good thing that she loves to travel by car, because Khala Granville Come a long way to join the College of Charleston as the first black female Dean of Admissions!

Originally from Indiana, where she served as Senior Associate Director of Admissions for Recruitment and Diversity Awareness at Indiana University at Bloomington for the past seven years, Granville, who joined the College in July, brings a recruiting experience, a spirit of collaboration and a new perspective to CofC.

“My responsibilities at IU Bloomington included leading recruitment initiatives and strategies for diversity through working closely with several campus partners, as well as community relations and outreach,” says Granville, who obtained her BA in Communication from the University of Louisville and her M. Div. from Christian Theological Seminary – something that taught him to ask questions, think critically, and find the best way forward.

And now that her path has taken her to the College of Charleston, she’s excited about what lies ahead.

“I look forward to supporting CofC’s enrollment goals and leading this dynamic team of professionals,” she says. “I hope to facilitate greater collaboration between the Admissions Office and the campus community. Last but not least, I look forward to continuing to position CofC as a collaborative partner in the Charleston community. “

When she’s not working, Granville enjoys attending concerts (Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Solange, Cardi B, Janet Jackson, Jorja Smith are among her favorites); playing with her Yorkie mix, Sophia; and take a look 90 days fianthis.

We caught up with Granville to see how she settles into her new life in Charleston, what awaits her for CofC recruiting efforts, and what adventures she’s planning next.

Khala Granville is the first black female Dean of Admissions at the College of Charleston. (Photos by Mike Ledford)

What was the biggest culture shock between Indiana and Charleston?

I don’t think I suffered as much from culture shock as I was from heat exhaustion. I’m from the South so I was excited to come back after spending 13 years in the Midwest, but this Charleston heat and humidity is no joke. I think nothing can prepare you for it. He really grabs you and doesn’t let go. Honestly, this has been the biggest transition for me.

What’s your favorite part of the job so far?

My favorite part of the job so far has been working with the Admissions Office and UMEP (University Marketing and Enrollment Planning) teams. There are so many talented employees here who are student-centered, and I am honored to work with all of them.

At IU Bloomington, you have managed to increase the diversity of incoming students by 45% in six years. To what extent do these diversity recruiting strategies / initiatives apply to the College?

It should be noted that I was not alone in these efforts to increase diversity at IU Bloomington. I had a great team and support from across campus. Everyone on this campus is committed to making UI more accessible, diverse and inclusive. We had a shared mission and vision in addition to a strategic plan that reported to the directors. When everyone understands that improving diversity on a campus is a campus-wide job, the job of managing enrollments becomes more manageable.

The biggest difference at the moment between what has been accomplished at IU and CofC is a strategic plan specifically around diversity recruiting. Like CofC, IU had a comprehensive plan, but my role focused on plans specifically for marginalized and special populations like underrepresented, transfer and veteran students. The team under my leadership has created a strategic set of programs, communications and marketing to support the journey of students from early high school through enrollment. Currently, CofC does not yet have a plan like this. In addition, CofC offers very few pre-university programs, which helps create a stronger pool of potential students to fuel the registration process.

The good news is, we’re getting there. It won’t happen overnight, but these conversations are happening, and I am very excited about the students, faculty and staff working to make this campus more diverse, more inclusive and more accessible.

Collaboration seems to be a theme for you. Why is collaboration – both between the campus community and the larger Charleston community – important for admissions?

Nothing can be done in a silo. Admissions work is such that it fuels retention, guidance, faculty expectations, campus resources, and ultimately employers. I see collaboration as a critical function of my role and our office; therefore, I am always looking for ways to connect with colleagues and the community. Building relationships and creating an intentional space for critical conversations only improves the student experience and our relationships within the community.

How do you think your seminary time informs your work today?

The seminar taught me to ask questions. It taught me to think critically and determine for myself what the way forward might be. Although I was not ordained, I have served as a hospital chaplain, associate pastor, and minister. My experience as a chaplain has been the most memorable experience I have ever had. It completely changed me from the inside. I have grown a lot this semester by sitting down with families and listening to their anxieties, frustrations, fears or joy. Many believe that chaplains evangelize those in the hospital, and although it can happen, most of what chaplains actually provide is presence ministry.

This type of ministry works very well for admissions. Most of the time, students and staff just want to be heard. They want to connect with someone and share their unique story. In fact, I do a lot more ministry as an admissions professional than I ever did when I was in formal ministry. It may tire you to be fully present with people, but it has been the greatest asset of my career.

What is your favorite road trip?

Oh wow! I have a lot of favorite road trips – one that even included my first trip to Charleston. However, my favorite trip overall was to go to Italy. I love Italian food and wine. I also like history, music and art. One of my favorite moments of this trip was navigating the city of Rome alone, on foot and without a working phone! It mortified my mother, but I really got to see Rome and not its tourist version. My other favorite moment was sitting inside the Sistine Chapel. The history and art of this space made me cry. I can’t wait to go back with my loved ones once it becomes safer to travel abroad.

What’s the first gig you want to go to once we’re out of this pandemic era?

Well, I don’t wait until the end of this pandemic era to go out and enjoy live music! I have tickets for Tinashe in Denver and Erykah Badu in Indianapolis in October. In fact, I plan to buy tickets for the Fugees this week, just trying to find a location that fits my schedule.

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