It’s a good thing she loves to road trip, because Khala Granville came a long way to join the College of Charleston as its first Black woman dean of admissions!

Hailing from Indiana, where she served as senior associate director of admissions for diversity recruitment and outreach at Indiana University Bloomington for the past seven years, Granville, who joined the College in July, brings recruitment experience, a collaborative spirit and fresh perspective to CofC.

“My responsibilities at IU Bloomington included directing the diversity recruitment initiatives and strategies through close collaborative work with multiple campus partners, as well as community relations and outreach,” says Granville, who earned her B.S. in communications from the University of Louisville and her M.Div. from Christian Theological Seminary – something that taught her to ask questions, think critically and find the best path forward.

And now that her path has brought her to the College of Charleston, she is excited about what’s to come.

“I am looking forward to supporting the enrollment goals of CofC and leading this dynamic team of professionals,” she says. “I hope to facilitate greater collaboration between the Office of Admissions and the campus community. Finally and most importantly, 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 watching a little 90 Day Fiancé. 

We caught up with Granville to see how she’s settling into her new life in Charleston, what’s ahead for CofC recruitment efforts and what adventures she is planning next.

Khala Granville

Khala Granville is the first Black female dean of admissions at the College of Charleston. (Photos by Mike Ledford)

What’s been the biggest culture shock coming from Indiana to Charleston?

I don’t think I’ve experienced culture shock as much as heat exhaustion. I’m from the South so I was excited to come back after being in the Midwest for 13 years, however this Charleston heat and humidity is no joke. I don’t think anything can prepare you for it. It really grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. That honestly 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 Office of Admissions and UMEP (University Marketing and Enrollment Planning) teams. There are so many talented staff here who are student centered, and I am honored to work with each of them.

At IU Bloomington, you were able to increase incoming student diversity by 45% in six years. How applicable are those diversity recruitment strategies/initiatives to the College?

It should be noted that I was not alone in those efforts to increase diversity at IU Bloomington. I had an amazing team and the support of the entire campus. Everyone on that campus was committed to making IU more accessible, diverse and inclusive. We had a shared mission and vision in addition to a strategic plan that reported up to the trustees. When everyone understands that improving diversity on a campus is a whole campus job, the work of enrollment management becomes more manageable.

The biggest difference right now between what was accomplished at IU and CofC is a strategic plan specifically around diversity recruitment. Like CofC, IU had an overall plan, but my role focused on the plans specifically for marginalized and special populations like underrepresented, transfer and veteran students. The team under my leadership created a strategic set of programs, communications and marketing to support the student journey from early high school to enrollment. Currently, CofC doesn’t yet have a plan like that. Additionally, CofC offers very few precollege programs, which help create a more robust prospective student pool to feed the enrollment process.

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

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

Nothing can be done in a silo. The work of admissions is such that it feeds into retention, advising, faculty expectations, campus resources and ultimately employers. I consider collaboration 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 intentional space for critical conversations only helps improve the student experience and our relationship within the community.

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

Seminary taught me to ask questions. It taught me to think critically and to determine for myself what the path forward could be. While I was not ordained, I have been a hospital chaplain, an associate pastor and a minister. My experience as a chaplain was the most impactful experience I’ve ever had. It changed me completely from the inside out. I did a lot of growing that semester as I sat with families and listened to their anxieties, frustrations, fears or joy. Many think that chaplains evangelize to those in the hospital, and, while that can happen, most of what chaplains actually provide is the ministry of presence.

That type of ministry works very well in admissions. Most of the time students and staff just want to be heard. They want to connect with someone and share their unique story. I actually do way more ministry as an admissions professional than I ever did when I was in formal ministry. It can wear you down to be fully present with people but it’s been the biggest asset to my career.

What’s your favorite road trip you’ve ever been on? 

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 going to Italy. I love Italian food and wine. I also love history, music and art. One of my favorite moments of that trip included navigating the city of Rome alone, by foot and without a working phone! It mortified my mom, but I really got to see Rome and not the tourist version of it. My other favorite moment was sitting inside the Sistine Chapel. The history and artistry of that space brought me to tears. I look forward to going back with my loved ones once it becomes safer to travel abroad.

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

Well, I’m not waiting until this pandemic era is over to go out and enjoy live music! I have tickets for Tinashe in Denver and Erykah Badu in Indianapolis this October. I plan to purchase Fugees tickets this week, in fact – just trying to firm up a location that works with my schedule.