Ivy Banks Named Vice Chair of AAU Chief Diversity Officers Steering Committee

Ivy Banks, associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion at the University of Arizona, has been appointed the inaugural vice chair of the Association of American Universities Chief Diversity Officers Steering Committee.

The establishment of the new 10-person committee coincides with the creation of AAU's newest constituent group, AAU Chief Diversity Officers, which includes diversity and inclusion leaders from the association's 65 member institutions across the U.S. and Canada. The committee will lead the planning and goal-setting processes for the larger constituent group.

Ivy Banks

Ivy Banks

AAU President Barbara R. Snyder announced Banks' appointment in her May 4 weekly report, a day after the committee's first meeting. Banks' appointment is a three-year commitment: She will serve as vice chair for the first year, chair for the second and past chair for the third.

As vice chair, Banks will help lead an effort to shape and guide diversity and inclusion-related policy, specifically for research universities, at the national level.

"As leaders at Research I institutions, the new constituent group can serve as the blueprint for other institutions on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Our work in this area is an opportunity to really home in on the systemic change that I think we're all working towards as we collectively move forward," Banks said.

Though the committee is still in its planning stages, Banks said early initiatives include investigating how federal financial aid impacts recruitment and retention for diverse students. She said the committee is also interested in speaking to federal lawmakers about using more inclusive language to describe the demographics of students who receive federal aid.

"I am excited to see Dr. Banks in this AAU leadership role, especially at this important moment in history for social justice and equity in our nation," said Liesl Folks, University of Arizona senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "It is tremendously important that research-intensive universities like the University of Arizona set the highest standards for equity and inclusion in higher education."

The University of Arizona is a leader when it comes to supporting and being responsive to students of all backgrounds, Banks said. Her new role will allow the university to exchange best practices related to diversity and inclusion with other leading institutions.

"With the appointment of Dr. Banks to this prominent role, the AAU is recognizing her and the University of Arizona as national leaders when it comes to diversity and inclusion in higher education," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "We are fortunate to have Ms. Banks leading this effort at our university and the AAU will greatly benefit from having her expertise leveraged for the benefit of all universities."

Banks said her appointment to the committee reminds her of one of her favorite quotes, from Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and to be nominated as a major party's presidential candidate: "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

"For every seat I have at a table, I bring a folding chair for all of the diverse students we have here on campus to be able to share their experience, to share how they're navigating the space, to share the barriers – and also the opportunities – so we can leverage resources and those in positions of power to effectuate change," Banks said.

Banks joined the University of Arizona in September after serving as assistant vice president for student affairs, engagement and inclusive excellence at Northern Arizona University. Before that, she led and redesigned recruitment efforts at the University of Akron School of Law.