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Remembering Alton Banks

The Department of Chemistry remembers and mourns Alton Banks, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, a remarkable teacher, mentor, and coordinator.

Alton Banks Headshot in grayscale
Alton Banks Professor Emeritus of Chemistry December 18, 1947 - April 23, 2022

Alton Banks, loving husband, father, and grandfather passed away peacefully on April 23, 2022 after a long battle with cancer.

Alton was born in Newnan, GA on December 18, 1947, as the oldest of three children. He attended West Georgia College. After receiving his BS, he attended Vanderbilt University and obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry. His first love of teaching led him to join the faculty at universities including Texas A&M, Southwest Texas State University, and North Carolina State University where he coordinated the general chemistry program for several years.

During his time as a chemistry professor, he received many teaching awards including The Award of Merit for teaching from Texas A&M and The LeRoy and Elva Martin award for teaching excellence from NC State. He was named as an Alumni distinguished undergraduate professor and a Member of the academy of outstanding faculty engaged in extension at NC State. He served the university in faculty governance at North Carolina State University, in the faculty senate, and the University of North Carolina system, in the faculty assembly. 

Remembered by his Colleagues

Catherine and Alton Banks holding hands
Catherine and Alton Banks

By Lucian Lucia

Professor, Department of Forest Biomaterials

Alton was always a true gentleman and warm ambassador of Chemistry. When I joined the Department in 2012, he was one of the first departmental faculty to welcome me and give me the confidence to participate in its teaching and research operations. I was so grateful for Alton. He always found a way to share a smile, a warm word, or a kindness. I will always remember him with fondness.

By Ana Ison

Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Alton will remain in my memories as someone who was always full of joy and happy to share ideas and experiences. We had many conversations about teaching and our families and it was abundantly clear how much love he had for both. Alton will be very missed!

By Maria Gallardo-Williams

Senior Faculty Development Specialist, Office for Faculty Excellence

Alton Banks was a wonderful colleague, always ready to support other faculty. He was kind and helpful to all, and always had a smile on his face and good advice to offer. In addition to his role in the Department of Chemistry, he was Director of the NC State Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL), which is now part of the Office for Faculty Excellence, from 2003-2007. During his time at the FCTL he reached the campus community with an interest in innovative pedagogy, and in facilitating peer evaluations and interactions. He will be missed. 

By Laura Sremaniak

Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

I remember Alton for his dedication to his students. He was always very at ease and engaging in his lectures. He had an infectious smile and loved to laugh. He was known for his contributions to chemical education, and had pioneered a computer-based quiz system long before any online homework system was commercialized. It was also very evident that he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.

A picture of Catherine and Alton Banks sitting at a picnic table.
Catherine and Alton Banks

By Jeremiah Feducia

Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Banks was an amazing faculty mentor. He always took the time to stop by my office to say “Howdy” or “Hey kiddo” and check in to see how things were going, even after he retired and was heroically battling cancer. Through his actions, he always reminded me the importance of paying it forward, whether by helping other colleagues, students in my courses, and even the next generation of scientists through educational outreach. He was always willing to help, supporting me as we started the now annual NC State STEM Merit Badge College (he instructed the electricity merit badge) and more recently we gave a seminar together at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Seeing how engaged and excited he was at these kinds of events was always inspiring to me. When I became DUP, he always knew the right times to provide me with advice and was a valuable resource in helping me identify campus partners outside of Chemistry. I will never forget how Alton put everyone else first, always had a smile on his face, but could still switch into “business mode” when needed. He will be dearly missed but his impact on this campus will be felt forever.