Kathy Banks, Ph.D., has been announced by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents as the sole finalist for president of A&M.
Banks, who currently serves as vice chancellor of engineering for the university system and dean of the College of Engineering, was unanimously chosen as the sole finalist by all nine of the members of the Board of Regents after being recommended by Chancellor John Sharp. This decision sets Banks up to be the 26th president and second female president in A&M’s history.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Banks said in a press release. “The Core Values of Texas A&M, its rich traditions, unique culture and commitment to the greater good is the very foundation of this great university and resonates deeply with me. I hope to build upon that framework in our pursuit of preeminence, without losing what makes Texas A&M so special. Texas A&M is one of a kind, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Banks received her master’s of engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 and her Ph.D. at Duke University in 1989. In addition, she studied and worked at three land grant universities before coming to A&M in 2011, according to a press release from the A&M System.
After Michael K. Young resigned from his position as president of A&M in December of 2020, a 17-person search committee was named and began work to narrow down candidates to fill the job for the long-term.
Interim President John Junkins, who served on the search committee, announced Banks’ status as a finalist in an email.
“I can assure you that Dr. Banks emerged from an exceptional field of candidates,” Junkins said. “At every stage of her career, she has excelled in teaching, research and transformational academic leadership.”
Chairperson of the Board of Regents Elaine Mendoza said the candidates on their initial list were from across the country, and the board was excited about the finalists picked by System Chancellor John Sharp. Mendoza said the goal in the search was to find someone who could expand the vision of A&M.
“She’ll be the second woman to be president of this great institution. I think the first female engineer to boot. It’s awesome to see,” Mendoza said. “It is awesome that the chancellor looked far and wide, [and] had no position as to what this candidate should look like, so to speak. Breaking those barriers is huge.”
According to the System’s press release, Banks’ accomplishments have helped expand research programs, especially those within the College of Engineering.
“That growth has been intentional,” Sharp said in the press release. “Banks sought to enhance educational delivery, expand research and teaching facilities and improve faculty recruitment and retention.”
Sharp further boasted Banks’s achievements in the press release, saying her hard work during her 10 years at A&M, including contributions to the nearly doubled enrollment rate within the College of Engineering, is what drew him to make the decision.
“Where is there a dean in the U.S. who has accomplished what Dean Banks has accomplished?” Sharp said. “If she can do for the university what she did for engineering, imagine what the university can achieve!”
After a 21-day waiting period required by state law, the Board of Regents will meet again to confirm Banks’s role as the new president, upon which she will begin the process of taking office.
Bec Morris and Myranda Campanella contributed to this report.