President Mark D. Gearan has announced the appointment of Assistant Professor of Education Cerri Banks as Interim Dean of William Smith College. Banks succeeds Dean Debra DeMeis who recently announced that she has accepted a position as Dean of Students at Wellesley College. Professor Banks will serve in the role of Interim Dean for one year while the Colleges conduct a national search.
Banks holds a bachelor of science in inclusive elementary and special education, a master's degree in cultural foundations of education, a certificate of advanced studies in women's studies, and a Ph.D. in cultural foundations of education — all from Syracuse University. At SU, she was a recipient of many awards including the School of Education doctoral prize.
Banks specializes in the areas of sociology of education, cultural studies, multicultural education and qualitative research. Her research interests center on issues of equity and culture in education, race, class, and gender analysis, popular culture, and social justice at all levels of schooling. Committed to educational reform and issues of diversity, Banks draws from educational theory, feminist theory, and critical race theory in her research and writing. Her forthcoming book, Black Women Undergraduates, Cultural Capital and College Success, will be published in 2008.
The following is President Mark D. Gearan's letter to the campus community.
To the HWS Community,
I write today to announce the appointment of Assistant Professor Cerri Banks as the Interim Dean of William Smith College for the 2008-2009 academic year. Professor Banks will serve as Interim Dean as we conduct a national search for the replacement of Dean Debra DeMeis who will leave Geneva on July 1 to take up her new duties as Dean of Wellesley College.
Professor Banks brings many qualities and qualifications to the position as Interim Dean of William Smith. Her scholarship and forthcoming book (Peter Lang Publishing) focuses on 'how black undergraduate women perceive and discuss their academic and social success in college.' As Interim Dean of William Smith College, she will draw from her scholarship and other research interests on learning communities and equity to lead the women of this institution. Her teaching and engagement with our students has been prized by her faculty colleagues and students alike. “She stands out among the most charismatic and magnetic teachers I have known in my 26 years of teaching at Hobart and William Smith,” says Professor of Education Charles Temple. “She talks about the things that trouble all of us — race, gender, culture and class — and she does so in a way that's remarkably inclusive. She has very high standards for her students and goes out of her way to help them achieve their best.”
Her extensive community service, work on the Commission on Inclusive Excellence, the Social Justice Collective and LifeSkills Program, evidences her commitment to our community. “She is a consummate teacher-scholar, whose research, teaching, and service are all seamlessly connected,” says Provost Teresa Amott. “Her life experiences ground and animate the theoretical framework of her research, and she is, at all times and in all places, seeking the teachable moment.”
I am grateful to Professor Banks for her willingness to serve in this capacity. I informed the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of my decision yesterday at a meeting in New York City.
Having worked with Professor Banks on various projects and observed the care she exhibits to our students, I am confident that she will lead William Smith during the final months of the Centennial and add to the vibrancy of our campus.
With every best wish, I remain
Mark D. Gearan