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Sweet Briar’s Jill Granger named dean of WCU Honors College

Jill Nelson Granger, associate dean of academic affairs and director of the Honors Program at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, will be the next dean of Western Carolina University’s residential Honors College.

The WCU Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Granger, which is effective July 15, during a special meeting Monday, July 6. She also will be joining the WCU faculty as a tenured, full professor of chemistry.

Jill Granger will serve as dean of the Honors College at Western Carolina.

Jill Granger will serve as dean of the Honors College at Western Carolina.

She will be filling a vacancy created by the departure of Brian Railsback, founding dean of WCU’s Honors College. Railsback stepped down from the post at the end of the 2014-15 academic year to resume teaching, writing and researching as a faculty member in the Department of English.

With her 22-year career at Sweet Briar, including 10 as an academic administrator, Granger possesses the skill set and leadership characteristics needed to continue the upward trajectory of WCU’s Honors College, Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar said.

“The Honors College, which provides a rigorous academic and social environment to more than 1,400 high-achieving students, is a signature academic unit and a significant point of pride for Western Carolina University,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “Dr. Granger has the expertise, the experience, the enthusiasm and the energy to lead the Honors College and to guide the continuing success of this pillar of distinction.”

In her current position at Sweet Briar since July 2007, Granger joined the college in 1993 as a faculty member in the chemistry department. She served as department chair from 2005 until 2007.

In her role as associate dean of academic affairs, she has provided administrative oversight of the Academic Resource Center, chaired an assessment committee responsible for college-wide program assessment and an external awards committee, coordinated an electronic student portfolio project, and served on committees on the topics of eligibility, orientation and retention.

Granger said the opening at WCU was brought to her attention by a colleague who understood that the only reason she would consider leaving her home at Sweet Briar would be for a full-time position leading a strong Honors College.

“From the start, I have been very impressed by the level of student participation, leadership and engagement in the Honors College at WCU,” she said. “This speaks, I think, to a strong foundation on which the program was built. Very clearly the Honors College has strong support at WCU. I’ve had great conversations with many program stakeholders, faculty, advisers, administrators and staff, who are all invested in the future of the program. I think this is a very exciting time at WCU.”

Among her goals for the college are increasing the amount of collaboration with partners on the campus and throughout the external community.

“My immediate plans include continuing my conversations with faculty and, working with the student board, to find out where the opportunities exist for making those collaborations and connections happen,” she said. “I’ve also had wonderful conversations with the chair of the college’s Advisory Board, Dr. Mark Whitehead, and I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of that group. I imagine that they may have ideas and interests in helping us to support student research, travel and creative endeavors.”

Granger was selected by the American Association of University Women of Virginia as “education advocate of the year” for 2007. She has an extensive record of academic publications and presentations, and has written grants that have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in external funding. She has mentored Sweet Briar students and helped them go on to top graduate and professional schools across the country.

Prior to joining the faculty at Sweet Briar, Granger was a teaching assistant and research assistant at Purdue University, where she earned her doctorate in analytical chemistry. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Butler University.

Launched with just 77 students on July 1, 1997, WCU’s Honors College was the first residential honors college established in the University of North Carolina system. The college’s mission is to help high-achieving students get more out of their educations through honors courses and special academic, leadership and social opportunities.

For more information, visit the website honors.wcu.edu.

By Bill Studenc

Categories | The Reporter


Photos | WCU News Services

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