OBITUARY

Robert Frederick Banks

January 18, 1936July 22, 2021
Robert F. (Bob) Banks, 85, of East Lansing, Michigan, passed away on July 22, 2021. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, colleague, mentor, and friend. Robert was born on January 18, 1936, in Battle Creek, Michigan, to Guy and Helen Banks, but soon after the family moved to Montclair, New Jersey. A graduate of Montclair High School, he received a B.A. in Economics from Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in Labor Economics from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While attending the LSE in London, he met his future wife, Clare; they married in 1963. He was a member of the LSE faculty from 1963 until 1967, when he received a job offer from Michigan State University (MSU) and they moved to East Lansing. Together, they raised three children, Justin, Rachel, and Sarah. Robert had a long and distinguished 40-year career at MSU. He came to MSU as a joint faculty member in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations and the newly formed James Madison College (JMC). In 1971, he became Dean of James Madison College, a position he held until 1979. In 1979, Robert joined MSU's central administration serving in the Provost's Office in many capacities, including as Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, a position he held until retirement in 2007. After retiring, he was repeatedly enlisted to work on projects requiring his extensive experience and knowledge of MSU practices, policies, and procedures. Robert was well-known for his commitment to diversity—to fair, equitable treatment of all faculty, students, and staff. He served on the Vice-Presidential Diversity Advisory Group and MSU Institutional Diversity in Action coordinators group. In 2007, he received the esteemed MSU Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Diversity in recognition for having, "continuously been a strong supporter of diversity efforts and programming at the University." He will be remembered most fondly by the Michigan State University community for his congenial, collegial spirit and especially by all faculty, students, and staff whom he encouraged to achieve their goals. At his retirement, the Provost's Office established The Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership. At the time, the MSU News Bulletin noted, "Banks' philosophies about teaching, learning, and leading by example have influenced and guided the lives of thousands of MSU faculty, staff, and students throughout the world." The award has received financial support from the Big Ten Academic Alliance and members of the MSU community. An endowment was also established at James Madison College as a tribute to Robert with a gift from a JMC graduate who "will never forget Dr. Banks' teaching, encouragement, and advice." Robert was an ardent Jazz aficionado; his office walls displayed the great Jazz artists he admired. He was a longtime supporter of the MSU College of Music's distinguished Jazz Studies Program and the annual East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival. At his retirement, Robert "Bebop" Banks was celebrated in concert by the MSU College of Music's Professors of Jazz. He served as the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival from 2012 until his death. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Clare, his three children, Justin (Estina) of Lansing, MI, Rachel of Washington, DC, and Sarah (Steve) of Plymouth, MI, two grandchildren, Carter and Emmagrace, and a cousin, Charles Stainback of Brooklyn, NY. He is predeceased by his parents and his sister, Margaret (Banks) Broughal of New York City, NY. A memorial mass will be held on August 10th at 11:00 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing. A memorial celebration will take place at a later date. Please do not send flowers. Contributions in honor of Robert F. Banks may be made to: The Robert F. and Clare M. Banks Endowment for Academic and Teaching Excellence in James Madison College, c/o James Madison College, Development Office, 329 South Case Hall, MSU, East Lansing, MI., 48825. MSU's College of Music Jazz Studies Program, 203 Music Building, East Lansing, MI 48824-1005. The East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, City of East Lansing, 410 Abbot Road, East Lansing, MI. 48823.

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Past Services

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Memorial Mass