Nominee Answers: Vern Granger

Nominee for President-elect:

 Vern Granger

Vern Granger
Director of Undergraduate Admissions
University of Connecticut

The nominees were asked to address the topics listed below:

  • How might your personal and professional experience inform your work on the NACAC Board?
  • What do you believe to be the greatest challenges facing the college counseling and admission profession and why?  Identify factors we should consider relative to these challenges as well as potential ways to problem-solve. 
  • What are the greatest challenges specific to NACAC that the board needs to consider?  Why should these be the top priority for the board?

I am excited to be a candidate for NACAC president-elect, especially in the first election in which our entire membership will have the chance to vote. NACAC’s membership has grown to over 23,000 professionals from across the globe, making us one of the largest and most diverse membership associations in higher education. I feel this election represents the type of inclusion that allows all members to feel they have a voice in the organization’s direction. While we no longer have the SPGP, NACAC still has a unique opportunity to enhance our profession’s role in “providing knowledge, networking, and ethical standards for college admissions.” The need for a strong NACAC has never been clearer, and I would like the opportunity to use my diverse experiences and background to provide the brave and bold leadership the role requires.

I believe the best way to represent the needs and interests of our members is through “empathetic leadership,” which factors the experiences of others into the decision-making process within NACAC. Like many of you, there have been times throughout my life and career when I felt marginalized and not valued. I experienced the frustration of working at institutions, while also feeling they did not truly represent me. There were times I felt a lack of connection to NACAC and wondered whether it served my needs. Despite these feelings, I can confidently say NACAC played a positive role in my development, as a professional and person, through providing a platform for me to confidently promote my passion for access and inclusion in my work.

A lesson learned from my parents is that we never truly know what someone is going through in their life. While giving the impression of normalcy, a colleague could be dealing with the loss of a family member, finding suitable childcare, or a host of other internal struggles. One of my guiding principles is to reduce unnecessary pressure on staff and colleagues, which is why the establishment of an open line of communication is so important. As a leader, I believe it is important to have a good understanding of the challenges faced by my colleagues and organizations. This transparency in the work environment allowed my teams to accomplish our collective objectives by our understanding of shared responsibility and involving others to help support the work of the group.

While my professional experiences have been at post-secondary institutions, I do not subscribe to a “university-centric” perspective. In order to be successful in my roles, it was important to have meaningful relationships with a variety of constituents. It was critical to have strong collaborations with school-based and independent counselors, community-based and non-profit organizations, community college advisors, and corporate partners. I will bring this experience to the role of president-elect and commit to representing all members.

Prior to departing for my first major leadership role, a mentor shared advice that I still remember. He told me it was one thing to have responsibilities; however, it was another to be responsible. A strength of NACAC is there is no shortage of talent or tremendous perspectives. However, what this position calls for most is the need for “responsible leadership,” which comes from taking those great ideas and transforming them into action through strong collaborations and sound planning and implementation.

Whether working with NACAC staff and board of directors, leadership from NACAC’s affiliates – both large and small, companies and organizations, and individual members, the president-elect will need to demonstrate strength in developing strategic plans that address our needs and issues, and implement actions to provide solutions. I am proud of proven track record of working with different constituents to create impactful programs that directly benefited both professionals and students.

In my career, I collaborated with a local, Tennessee community college to implement a bridge program that created a direct pathway to the University of Tennessee. Moreover, I worked with campus partners, school counselors, and community-based organizations to create a pipeline program for underserved high school juniors to Ohio State University. I led a campus-wide committee to create a pre-departure orientation program in China for new students transitioning to UConn. While working with Southern ACAC leadership and members, local school districts and companies, we developed mini-camp college workshops in different communities throughout the region, to help educate students and families about the college search process. These examples of “responsible leadership” demonstrate my ability to move concepts to actions, and work with many of the diverse constituents reflected in NACAC’s membership.

The lack of access to resources for many of our members is a huge challenge facing our profession. It impacts the opportunity for members to develop the prerequisite skills and competencies to advise students on preparing for success in, and beyond, high school. It hurts their ability to network and learn best practices to effectively engage with students, as the demographic landscape is shifting beyond what we have considered “traditional” college students. It impairs how they work with students to identify “good-fit” options to fund their education and align with personal strengths and interests.

I will work with NACAC staff and the board of directors to address NACAC’s financial challenges. This is critical to our ability to work with all NACAC affiliates to ensure high-quality, affordable, and accessible professional development and training opportunities to prepare our members to address their rapidly evolving needs. This calls for transformational conversations on identifying new and alternative revenue streams, and it will be my priority for NACAC to establish more partnerships with other mission-aligned organizations, and develop new revenue-positive programs to help address these financial challenges.

NACAC is a very special organization to me. Many close friends are from relationships made through the organization. The confidence to seek out leadership roles at multiple universities came from my opportunities to lead within NACAC. While we face many challenges, I am optimistic about future opportunities to build on the great work and contributions of so many in our organization.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve and thank you for your consideration.


Return to Vern Granger's main nominee page. 

Review Vern Granger's statement. 

Review Vern Granger's biographical information.

View Vern Granger's speech. 



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