Chestnut Hill College Remembers Dr. Grace Banks
Friday, May 15, 2009
Grace Ann Banks, Ph.D.,
formerly Sister Grace Banks, SSJ, professor emeritus of chemistry and physics,
died on March 30 at the age of 66. Dr. Banks was a member of the Chestnut Hill
College faculty from 1979 until her retirement in 2008.
Rosemary Schierer, SSJ recently reflected on the life
of Grace Banks. “Grace was an exceptional teacher. The material she presented
was never described as a piece of cake yet somehow she was able to make quantum
mechanics and p-chem understandable to her students. As a teacher she was
challenging as well as compassionate. Learning is hard work and that lesson was
quickly picked up by her students. She was there to help but not to baby. As a
result of her approach, our science graduates went into medicine and research
confidant and well prepared.”
“Grace was a scientist. Although she was mostly
involved with the physical sciences, she had a strong interest in environmental
issues and forensic science. She was a practicing scientist who did research and
chair, Grace brought in top faculty to the College. When our enrollment was down
and science majors were fewer in number, she initiated new programs to attract
students and strengthened our connections with chemical and pharmaceutical
companies in order to provide attractive internships and job opportunities.”
A 2000 recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F.
Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, Grace’s love of science went beyond
her involvement with Chestnut Hill College students. In an effort to spark an
interest in young minds, Grace became involved in the program, Expand Your
Horizons, to interest young girls in science. When Expand Your Horizons first
started, Chestnut Hill was still a women’s college and involved with national
organizations that encouraged the concept of women in science and the program.
The chemistry department continues to sponsor the program and keeps the dream of
more women scientists alive.
Dr. Banks was a member of many professional societies
that include the American Chemical Society, the National Science Teachers’
Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Scholar Teachers (PASTS), the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Sigma Chi,
and Beta Kappa Chi. In later years, she was an active member of her church and
the community where she lived.
Dr. Banks earned a B. S. in chemistry from Chestnut
Hill College in 1972, and later earned a M.S. (1975) and a Ph.D. (1978), both
degrees in chemical physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Dr. Banks is survived by her
father, William J. Banks, her sister, Alice and several nieces and nephews.
Contributions in her memory may be sent to Chestnut
Hill College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 9601 Germantown Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19118.