University History

Dr. Samuel A. Banks

President, 1986 - 1987


Born and raised in Florida, Dr. Samuel Alston Banks earned a bachelor’s degree with Phi Beta Kappa honors at Duke University, a master’s degree in divinity at Emory University and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Chicago.

President Banks has been a member of the undergraduate, graduate and professional school faculties of private and public universities. He taught at Drew University for three years before moving to the University of Florida College of Medicine at Gainesville in 1962 as one of the first humanities professors in the nation appointed to a medical college faculty. At the time of his election to the President of Dickinson College in 1975, he was Chief of the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities in the College of Medicine. He founded the first program in the nation integrating the humanities into the curricula of medical schools.

During his 11-year presidency at Dickinson, the value of the endowment portfolio tripled and the level of annual giving also tripled, while admission applications increased more than twofold. Dr. Banks oversaw a large renovation resulting in a new Life/Sports Learning Center, a Center for the Arts and new quarters for Dickinson’s programs in International Education, Languages, Social Studies, Psychology and Geology. Dr. Banks lectured at the Dickinson School of Law and served as Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Science at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

Dr. Banks showed creative leadership in the higher education community. He believed strongly in innovation that preserved the value of the traditional strengths of higher education in America. He focused on examination of the basic purposes of liberal arts institutions and identification of concrete models to fundamentally address the ways colleges and universities can educate students most effectively.

Dr. Banks retired early due to health reasons and passed away in September 2000.