Grace Chapin James, formerly director of student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, has been appointed executive director of admissions at Washington University in St. Louis, announced Ronné Turner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid. Her appointment was effective June 27.
Turner said James is uniquely qualified to identify and enroll talented students from a diversity of backgrounds; to strengthen the university’s holistic review process; and to collaborate with school deans and campus partners to enhance the university’s exceptional undergraduate experience.
“We are extraordinarily pleased to add Grace Chapin James to the leadership team in Undergraduate Admissions,” Turner said. “She is a data-driven enrollment leader with a proven track record of innovation and a passion for equity.”
At the Booth School of Business, James selected candidates for the school’s MBA program, one of the nation’s best; expanded opportunities for first-generation and lower-income graduate students; and built a strong admissions team. She previously served as deputy director in the University of Chicago’s Office of College Admissions, where she implemented the university’s test-optional policy in 2018, two years before many peers followed suit.
James said she is impressed by the university’s bold initiatives to enroll and support lower-income and first-generation students, such as the WashU Pledge, Student Success Fund and Gateway to Success, which includes $800 million in endowed funding to support need-blind undergraduate admissions.
“One of the reasons I was attracted to WashU was because of its financial resources and its eagerness to put that money toward financial aid and opening doors,” James said. “WashU also appreciates that an intersectional approach to recruitment of diverse candidates goes far beyond simply having a strong financial aid program.
“I like to think of financial aid as a key in search of a door. Our job is to help students find that door and get the key in the lock. Our whole team will be there to help students answer the questions that matter to them: ‘How do I actually access aid? What’s the application process like? Am I the kind of student who belongs here? What are the resources to support me academically and socially?’ We want every student to feel empowered to put their best foot forward.”
James earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Chicago and a graduate degree in higher education from Harvard University.