Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella has announced that author and educator Cerri Banks, currently dean of William Smith College and an education professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will become the new Dean of the College as of July 15.
"I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Cerri Banks into our community. The scope of responsibilities for the Dean of the College is broader than ever before, and we are extremely fortunate to have someone with Cerri’s breadth of experience and expertise joining us," said Pasquerella. "I am looking forward to working with her on a wide range of issues to serve the needs of students and foster the alliance of academic and student affairs. Cerri’s strong interpersonal and leadership skills, research and scholarship on diversity and inclusion, and ability to bring constituencies together in the pursuit of common objectives will serve Mount Holyoke well as we look toward the future."
Banks has been the dean of William Smith, a women's college that partners with Hobart College, since July 2008, and she has been an assistant professor since 2005 in the education department at Hobart and William Smith. She also taught at Syracuse University as an adjunct professor and graduate instructor from 2001 through 2007.
"I am humbled by the privilege I have had at William Smith College and will now have at Mount Holyoke College to help educate and prepare women to be significant leaders, in all the ways they desire and imagine, in the 21st century," said Banks. "Mount Holyoke’s history, tradition, and mission are at the foundation of its reputation in the world of higher education and beyond. Its level of excellence in research and teaching instills global confidence in the liberal arts mission. I believe Mary Lyon is very proud."
Banks--who will replace outgoing dean Penny Gill--specializes in sociology of education, cultural studies, multicultural education, and qualitative research. Committed to educational reform and issues of inclusion, she draws from educational theory, feminist theory, and critical race theory in her work as dean and in her research and writing. In her book Black Women Undergraduates, Cultural Capital and College Success (Peter Lang, 2009), she expands the theoretical concept of cultural capital and provides practical ways colleges and universities can recognize and utilize the cultural capital of all students. Her new book, a co-authored, edited volume titled Teaching, Learning and Intersecting Identities in Higher Education (Peter Lang, 2011), shows the practical application of feminist intersectional theory in everyday classroom settings.
As the dean of William Smith College, Banks has been responsible for the academic and social progress of the college's students; she has also been a member of the president’s senior staff, an advisor of the Senior Honor Society and William Smith Student Government, the director of the President’s Commission on Inclusive Excellence, and a member of the Committee on Academic Affairs.
Banks received her Ph.D. and M.S. in cultural foundations of education, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Studies in women’s studies, from Syracuse University. She also earned a B.S. in inclusive elementary and special education from Syracuse.