Chris Grey was in ninth grade when he decided he
wanted to come to Emory.
An acquaintance asked him one day, “Where do you want to go
Grey, whose parents had not attended college, really hadn’t
given it much thought. “I don’t know,” he replied.
This acquaintance, who was a pretty serious person for a freshman
in high school—he wore neckties to class—gave Grey a
brochure on Emory’s School of Medicine.
While growing up in Orlando, Fla., Grey had heard about the big
state schools, Florida State and Florida. He’d heard about
the state’s major African-American university (Florida A&M),
too, but he didn’t want to get lost among tens of thousands
of students at a big state institution. And he didn’t want
to go up north to an Ivy League university.
But that Emory place he read about sounded pretty good.
And throughout high school, whenever Grey would talk about Emory
as the place where he wanted to go to college, people would say,
“I couldn't help but think, ‘I must’ve hit a gold
mine,’” Grey said with a laugh.
So, in 1994, when Grey graduated high school, he entered Emory in
the fall. He was, like so many freshmen, interested in pre-med,
but Grey eventually graduated in 1998 with a BBA from the Goizueta
Business School, majoring in finance and organization & management.
One month after his Commencement, Grey got a job as a consultant,
and he was on his way. He remained in Atlanta, though, keeping close
ties with the Association of Emory Alumni and staying active as
an alumnus. He also was an advisor to his college fraternity, Alpha
In June 2000, Grey got a job in the still-booming dotcom industry.
Things were going superbly—until January of the next year
when Grey, along with almost all of his co-workers, was laid off.
Unsure of his next move, just like when he was in ninth grade, Grey
ended up at Emory.
One day, Grey was talking to a friend from Alpha Phi Alpha, who
told him of a job that was about to open in the Office of Admission.
“You’d be perfect!” the friend promised.
Approachable, outgoing, gregarious and possessing a frequent and
genuine laugh, Grey has a completely trustworthy vibe. In the business
of recruiting students, it’s easy to come off like a snake
oil salesman. Grey, though, is someone a stranger could immediately
latch onto. He was perfect for the Office of Admission.
Which is where he sits today.
“I wanted a job I was going to enjoy getting up in the morning
to do,” said Grey, assistant dean of admission and director
of multicultural recruitment. “The most important thing to
me is job satisfaction.
“My best recruiting strategy is to always give personal stories,”
he continued. “Whether it is my time at Emory or a story having
to do with students I currently mentor on campus. In that way, I
think people don’t necessarily see me as the ‘salesman
of Emory University’; they feel it’s a bit more personal.”
Grey clearly loves his job, and that’s important because there
is a lot of job to love.
From now until November is travel time. Grey will be on the road,
talking up Emory and meeting with students and parents at high schools
and college fairs all over his recruiting area (which encompasses
Alabama, Louisiana and Maryland, as well as DeKalb County and Atlanta
city schools). For instance, this week, Grey travels from Birmingham,
Ala., to Montgomery, back to Birmingham, then to Huntsville, then
back to Atlanta, all in six days.
Over the last two weeks of September, Grey will barnstorm metro
Atlanta schools; at the end of the month, he’ll be in Baltimore
and Washington. On the weekends in between, he’ll help host
visiting prospective students on campus.
“The weekends are taken. Everything is taken,” Grey
laughed. “The personal life gets put on hold.”
November through March is the reading season. Emory receives more
than 10,000 applications each year, and they have to be sifted through
sometime. Last year, Grey read between 1,100 and 1,300 of them.
The final decision about whether a student is admitted falls on
Dean Dan Walls, but the admission staff, including Grey, has a lot
“It’s very difficult to make those decisions,”
Grey said. “I remember my first year, everyone called me ‘The
Nice One.’ I was always looking for reasons to admit a student.
We kid about it, but we’re the Office of Admission, not the
Office of Denial.”
Decision letters are mailed in late March. April is visitation month.
The campus is crawling with prospective freshman and Grey is one
of the hosts. May is when the waiting list gets cleared—those
applicants who didn’t quite make the first cut are slotted
into suddenly available openings. By Memorial Day, “We’re
hoping the class is set and we can breathe,” Grey said. “That’s
when it’s time to take a vacation.”
Admission office staff members, since they are in the public eye
all the time, are a crucial part of the Emory community. Yet it’s
very easy for them to be detached from it. “You can come to
work and go home and not have to be that active on campus because
your audience for the most part is outside the University,”
Grey said. “But I can’t do that. I want to see the people
I’ve recruited. What are they doing? What are they getting
involved in? My office has a revolving door.”
It’s a door that Grey has to close every once in a while just
to get work done, as it is common for students he has recruited
to visit him. But being active on campus is something that has never
been a problem for Grey.
“I was overly involved,” Grey said of his years as an
Emory student. In addition to doing a lot of volunteer work with
Alpha Phi Alpha, he was president of the Black and Latino Business
Association, chief justice of the Student Government Association’s
Constitutional Council, an orientation leader, a sophomore advisor,
a residence hall advisor, and member of DVS, the senior society.
His volunteer and professional activity as a staff member matches,
probably exceeds, his student interests since practically all of
it is done on top of his day-to-day responsibilities. Grey sits
on the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities
and the Latino Task Force; he is president of the Caucus of Emory
Black Alumni, an appointed member of the Southern Association for
College Admission Counseling (SACAC) Human Relations Committee.
He volunteers at college prep workshops at the Atlanta-Fulton County
Library, and he is a campus adviser for the Black Student Alliance,
National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Society of African American
Leaders, NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha.
Keeping busy is not a problem, and as the admission office’s
director of multicultural recruitment, Grey oversees two additional
program: The MLK Scholars, who are Emory students of all races who
graduated from the Atlanta Public School system; and Essence of
Emory, a four-day, three-night program every April that Grey described
as a multicultural visitation weekend. Geared toward African American
and Hispanic students, Essence at Emory gives them the run of the
campus, the chance to talk with faculty and students, and the opportunity
to visit a class before returning home. For students who live more
than six hours away from Atlanta and might have a problem paying
for travel, the University often will pick up the tab.
“Once we can get the students to come to campus, we’ll
have a higher yield
on those who have actually visited Emory as opposed to students
“When I came here and I was told, ‘Here’s your
job description,’ and those two programs were the things that
were given to me,” Grey continued. “There are a lot
of other things I’ve just taken up. Partly, I think, because
I was an alum, and the other part because I just don’t know
how to say no.”
There are surely many people on campus who hope Grey doesn’t
learn anytime soon.