By Kelly Homan Rodoski

Syracuse University will host a formal Celebration of Life service on Thursday, Sept. 8, to honor the life and legacy of Cerri A. Banks, vice president for student success and deputy to the senior vice president of student experience, who passed away unexpectedly on July 31.

The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel and feature remarks by Chancellor Kent Syverud; Allen Groves, senior vice president for the student experience and chief student experience officer; Mary Grace Almandrez, vice president for diversity and inclusion; Kelly Chandler-Olcott, interim dean of the School of Education; and Carla Guariglia ’23. Monica Davis will speak as a representative of the Banks family. The service will be immediately followed by a reception in the Noble Room of Hendricks Chapel.

“Cerri Banks embodied the spirit and soul of Syracuse University,” says Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, who will preside over the ceremony. “In addition to her brilliant intellect, courageous leadership and authentic advocacy, she was wonderfully kind, fully trustworthy and bursting with joy. We grieve because of our loss, and we give thanks because of her impact.”

Banks was a three-time graduate of Syracuse University, having earned a bachelor’s degree in inclusive elementary and special education, a master’s degree in cultural foundations of education, and a Ph.D. in cultural foundations of education. After serving at Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges, Mount Holyoke College and Skidmore College, she returned to Syracuse University in July 2021.

In addition to her role as vice president for student success and deputy to the senior vice president of student experience, Banks served as a member of the three-person interim leadership team charged with advancing the University’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility priorities and strategic planning efforts. She was a member of the School of Education’s Board of Visitors since 2009 and served as its chair for the past seven years.