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Branden Grimmett to lead new Pathways Center for student professional development, career exploration
Branden Grimmett

Branden Grimmett will join Emory on Aug. 1 as associate dean in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and as vice provost for career and professional development.

Branden Grimmett, associate provost of career and professional development at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, has been selected to lead Emory’s new Pathways Center, a re-envisioning of undergraduate career exploration and professional development as part of the university’s Student Flourishing initiative.

In this role, effective Aug. 1, Grimmett will serve as associate dean in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and as vice provost for career and professional development.

“Branden is an extraordinary talent whose experience and aspirations align with our vision for the Pathways Center as a foundation for students’ lifelong journeys of transformation, impact and service,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Emory’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “With inclusion and connection at the core of his philosophy, Branden will work with our entire team of career professionals to engage not only our students but the ecosystem of employers, alumni, faculty, parents and others who are vital to their success.”

The path to student success

Launching in Fall 2022 under Grimmett’s leadership, the Pathways Center will integrate existing resources and programs as well as create new initiatives to support purposeful professional development and career exploration across the entire undergraduate experience, beginning in the first year. Experiential learning, intentional reflection and mentoring relationships will be integral to the Pathways Center as ways of preparing students for a meaningful life and post-graduate opportunities.

“With the Pathways Center, we seek to offer an innovative, holistic approach that supports the personal and professional development of all Emory undergraduates,” says Emory College Dean Michael A. Elliott. “Branden Grimmett is a remarkable, creative leader who will bring to this work both a wealth of experience and a clear vision of how we can achieve these aims. We are excited to have him as a new partner to the many professionals on this campus who advance the work of student flourishing.”

Grimmett was named to the role after a highly competitive nationwide search conducted by the firm Heidrick & Struggles. The search process relied on engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, alumni and students.

“I’m excited to welcome Branden to Emory. He was a standout from the first interview in which his thorough understanding of the field, concern and regard for students, and commitment to partnering and innovation were abundantly clear,” says Enku Gelaye, senior vice president for Campus Life. “This new role under Branden’s leadership creates tremendous capacity for the university to bring together student-facing services already committed to engaging students in Pathways work. The Pathways initiative also reimagines how we meet our students at a critical time — a time when exploration, reflection and meaning-making matter most to them and can be truly transformative in their lives.”

Grimmett’s experience ranges from career development positions at Tufts University and Harvard Divinity School to leadership roles at St. Olaf College and Loyola Marymount University (LMU). His expertise reflects the goals of the new Pathways Center: to establish students’ interactions with the center from their first year onward; to grow external relationships with corporate and nonprofit partners to develop student opportunities; and to ensure that professional development activities respond to the needs of all students, including first-generation, low-income and historically underrepresented groups.

The student perspective

According to alumna and search advisory committee member Joy Knowles, who graduated this year from Emory College, the Pathways Center “has the potential to provide amazing support for a diverse group of students, including those who may need additional resources and guidance. Branden has an attentiveness to the experiences of underrepresented students that will ensure that the Center meets student needs. It is essential to level the playing field by creating opportunities for people of color and students of varying socioeconomic statuses.

“It is very encouraging to see Emory create such a meaningful initiative to aid students in discovering their post-college journeys, and I am confident that Branden’s leadership will make the mission both successful and effective,” Knowles says.

Throughout his career, Grimmett has worked to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts into students’ personal and career development. At LMU, Grimmett instituted a policy whereby potential employers were asked to agree to a DEI policy before hiring students for internships and jobs. He also forged strong partnerships between the career center and groups such as Disability Support Services, Ethnic and Intercultural Services, Jewish Student Life, LGBTQ Student Services, Muslim Student Life, Undocumented Students and Veterans Programs.

Creating opportunities for partnership and engagement

Grimmett looks forward to building a wide range of partnerships at Emory and beyond, especially with Atlanta’s robust business, corporate and nonprofit communities.

“I am thrilled to join Emory at a time when the university is focused on intentionally preparing students for professional achievement and success in life. The new Pathways Center will seamlessly bring together the Career Center, national scholarships and fellowships, undergraduate research programs and pre-health advising,” he says.

“We will also build connections with student employment and work with the Division of Advancement and Alumni Engagement to strengthen alumni mentoring programs,” he adds. “I look forward to working with each of these teams and university leadership to elevate Emory's standing in the employment market, while creating one entry point for recruiters seeking to hire undergraduates from every major."

On the Atlanta campus, Grimmett will work with the Career Management Center of Goizueta Business School and the professional development team in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. He will work closely to coordinate services and initiatives with the director of a counterpart center that will serve first- and second-year undergraduates on Emory’s Oxford College campus as well.

Grimmett received his bachelor of arts degree at St. Olaf College, a master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School and a doctor of education degree from the University of Southern California.

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