Keith Banks at a Fed Challenge alumni event
Toggle caption Photo by Lawrence Lerner

SASN Alumus Keith Banks Inducted Into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni

On November 7, financial services executive Keith Banks (SASN ’77) was inducted into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni (HDA), one of the most prestigious honors the university bestows upon its graduates.

Banks was honored along with two other alumni whose professional and civic contributions have made a mark on our society, putting them in the rarefied company of past HDA inductees such as SASN alumna Judith Viorst, late actor James Gandolfini, author Janet Evanovich, chef Mario Batali, late actor and humanitarian Paul Robeson, and Nobel Prize-winners Selman Waksman and Milton Friedman.

Banks grew up in Nutley, NJ, and studied economics as an undergraduate at Rutgers University–Newark. He rose to become CEO and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of FleetBoston Financial’s asset management organization. In April 2004, he joined Bank of America, following FleetBoston Financial’s merger with the company. During his career at Bank of America, he has served as President of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division; President and CIO of Columbia Management; and as President of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. Banks currently is serving as Vice Chairman and Head of the Investment Solutions Group at Bank of America, where he oversees the Chief Investment Office, Alternative Investments and Specialty Asset Management, Capital Markets divisions, and the products and platforms supporting Merrill, Bank of America Private Bank and Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions—representing total client balances of more than $3 trillion.

He made his first gift to Rutgers in 1987 in support of the Newark College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, he and his wife, Debra, have been generous donors, establishing scholarships for the university’s nationally renowned Honors Living-Learning Community, the Department of Economics, and the School of Arts and Sciences–Newark, as well as an endowed speaker series in economics.

It is an incredible honor. I am proud to go into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni representing all the great Rutgers-Newark alumni who came before me, as well as the terrific professors who contributed to my success.

He has found other ways to give back to Rutgers as well, speaking at Rutgers Business School events and supporting the economics department’s Fed Challenge Team by hosting practice sessions for the team in the BofA Tower in midtown Manhattan, with a panel of fellow RU-N alumni from the financial services industry.

And when Banks isn’t finding ways to help Rutgers, he lends his time to other organizations and causes. He is a member of the Rutgers Board of Governors, and sits on the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees, the Board of Advisors of Columbia University Medical Center and the Columbia Business School Board of Overseers. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Lincoln Center.

Banks and his wife Debra, still live in NJ. We caught up with him recently to reflect on what this honor means to him.


When did you first learn you were going to be inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni?
This summer, I received a phone call from the Rutgers University Alumni Association informing me of their decision.

How did you feel upon learning the news?
It was fantastic news, and I was humbled to learn that come November 7, I would be inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.
 
Had you heard of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni prior to hearing about the award? What were your experiences with it (if any)?
As a graduate of Rutgers, everyone has certainly heard of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni, given the incredible honorees who have been inducted. This is a remarkable honor bestowed upon a graduate.

Keith Banks at HDA reception
Keith Banks (right) with the other 2019 Rutgers University HDA award recipients, Robert Campbell and Cheri Beasley

What does this honor mean to you personally, in light of your experience as an undergrad at Rutgers-Newark?
It is an incredible honor. I am proud to go into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni representing all the great Rutgers-Newark alumni who came before me, as well as the terrific professors who contributed to my success.
 
And what does it mean to you professionally, given that Rutgers has graduated hundreds of thousands of students in its long history, but only 229 alums have been inducted into the HDA—including Paul Robeson, Hazel O’Leary, Milton Friedman.
A: It is gratifying that my experiences and contributions were deemed worthy—and that the Rutgers University Alumni Association not only looked at my academic and philanthropic work, but felt that my career overall was one of substance and meaning.

Are you looking forward to the induction ceremony itself and sharing the occasion with loved ones?
I’m very much looking forward to the induction ceremony, and having my family, close friends and fellow inductees share this special evening with me.

Thanks for sitting down with us.
You’re welcome.

 

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