UNC Gillings alumna Banks promoted to top leadership position at Texas A&M

April 6, 2021

Dr. M. Katherine Banks

Dr. M. Katherine Banks

On Wednesday, March 31, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents named M. Katherine Banks, PhD, president of the system’s flagship institution, Texas A&M University. This appointment follows her naming as sole finalist for the position on March 3.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Banks said. “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 is a graduate of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, where she earned a Master of Science degree in environmental sciences and engineering in 1986.

”My time at UNC was a turning point in my career,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M Engineering Vice Chancellor and Dean. “I was challenged, encouraged and supported as I developed my passion for research. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend such a high quality and impactful program.”

In previous roles, as Texas A&M’s Vice Chancellor of Engineering and National Laboratories and College of Engineering dean, she supervised programs at seven other universities and three state agencies. At Texas A&M, she spurred rapid growth by nearly doubling enrollment, recruiting the Army Futures Command to the RELLIS Campus and winning a federal contract to help manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“The Board was excited to know the search yielded tremendous interest and many qualified candidates,” said Elaine Mendoza, chairman of the Board of Regents. “This speaks to the stellar reputation, credibility and positive momentum of Texas A&M University. The Board is confident that Dr. Banks will lead the university to even greater heights while celebrating the traditions and spirit that make Texas A&M unique.”

Chancellor Sharp said Banks’ decade-long record at Texas A&M led her to the university’s highest leadership position.

“Where is there a dean in the U.S. who has accomplished what Dean Banks has accomplished?” asked Chancellor Sharp. “If she can do for the university what she did for engineering, imagine what the university can achieve!”

Along with increasing enrollment, she managed to reduce the number of students in each class and address cost. She expanded research and teaching facilities and improved faculty recruitment and retention. Her leadership and fundraising acumen were instrumental in doubling the square footage of the campus’s engineering facilities, including state-of-the-art facilities or undergraduate learning and a 65,000 square foot “maker space.”

To curb rising student costs, Banks created engineering academies in collaboration with community colleges throughout Texas, allowing students to save money by fulfilling basic educational requirements at local community colleges before transitioning to the campus at College Station.

Banks is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

After coming to the Gillings School, she earned a Doctorate from Duke University, then studied and worked at three land-grant universities before heading to Texas A&M.

Dr. Banks’ presidency commences on June 1. She will continue to serve as Vice Chancellor of National Laboratories and National Security Strategic Initiatives and on the board of Triad National Security, LLC, managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory. She will also provide oversight for the Bush Combat Development Complex at the RELLIS Campus.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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