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Bernard Banks new director of Doerr Institute

By Richie Su     11/28/23 11:27pm

Bernard Banks will join Rice’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders as director Jan. 1, 2024. He currently serves as the associate dean for leadership development and a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

After graduating from West Point Academy with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Banks went on to pursue master’s degrees at Northwestern University, Harvard Business School, Central Michigan University and United States Army War College, as well as a Ph.D. at Columbia University. Banks was also a brigadier general in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2016.

According to Banks, he plans to build a strong leadership network across the campus with the Doerr Institute for New Leaders.

“My initial plan is to collaborate with the wonderful Doerr Institute team and leaders throughout the university,” Banks said. 

Founded in 2015 by Rice graduate students John and Ann Doerr, the Doerr Institute aims to develop the leadership capacity of Rice students by providing professional-quality leader development at no cost, according to Provost Amy Dittmar.

“The training [at the Doerr Institute] is driven by evidence-based approaches,” Dittmar wrote in an email to the Thresher. “In doing so, it assists students in harnessing their expertise and passions to have a great impact on society.”

Dittmar said she was grateful and excited for Banks’ appointment.

“If you think about the mission and impact of the Doerr Institute’s work, it cuts across all disciplines,” Dittmar said. “Dr. Banks’ breadth of experience and expertise will be invaluable in developing Rice students into global leaders.”

Anna Xia, a Jones College freshman, said she attended the Doerr Institute’s leader excursion with executives at Southwest Airlines on Oct. 9.

“We listened to a speech given by two outstanding leaders at Southwest Airlines,” Xia said. “We learned how the company is coordinated, as well as some key qualities of being a good leader. It was an eye-opening experience.”

“Leadership is all about influence. Rice is committed to ensuring it amplifies every community member’s ability to influence the world around them. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to join the amazing Rice community,” Banks said.

McMurtry College President Jackson Hughes said though he has not experienced Doerr Institute programming, he has undergone leadership training through the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership and developed leadership skills through other experiences.

“Leadership training is a core pillar in being both a good leader, but also a great follower,” Hughes, a senior, wrote. “I think that the best followers are those with leadership experience, as they can think like a leader and support whoever is leading their team in the best way possible. I also think that a core tenant of leadership is lifelong learning, which has been a driver in my academic and extracurricular success.”

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