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Allen W. Groves Selected as Senior Vice President, Cerri A. Banks as Vice President to Lead Syracuse University’s Student Experience Team
The national search for new leadership to oversee Student Experience has resulted in the appointment of two highly experienced, dynamic and innovative individuals who will work as a team to guide the division in building a best-in-class, outside-of-the-classroom experience. Chancellor Kent Syverud has appointed Allen W. Groves as senior vice president, Student Experience, and Cerri A. Banks ’00, G’04, G’06, vice president, Student Success, and deputy to the senior vice president. Both appointments were approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. Groves and Banks will start on July 1.
“The search committee demonstrated extraordinary diligence in considering higher education professionals of the highest caliber,” says Chancellor Syverud. “These exceptional candidates looked at Syracuse University as a unique opportunity to impact the lives of our students. We are excited to have Allen and Cerri come to us as a team, ready to collaborate with the talented staff already in place who have seen us through one of the most challenging years in the history of this university. I am confident that Allen and Cerri will provide outstanding leadership in these roles that are so critical to shaping how our students experience Syracuse University.”
Groves comes to Syracuse from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he has spent more than a decade as associate vice president and university dean of students. Banks, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Syracuse University, returns to her alma mater from her current post as dean of students and vice president for student affairs at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Groves will lead a division that includes the programs, services and personnel of the Barnes Center at The Arch (including Counseling Services, Health Services, Health Promotion and Recreation); Career Services; Disability Cultural Center; First-Year and Transfer Programs; Fraternity and Sorority Affairs; International Services; LGBTQ Resource Center; Multicultural Affairs; Parent and Family Services; Student Activities; Student Centers and Programming Services; Student Engagement; Student Living (Residential Life); and Student Rights and Responsibilities.
“The challenges facing students at Syracuse University and elsewhere are complex and demand a transparent, collaborative, direct and responsive approach,” says Groves. “My husband and I are excited to be joining this vibrant community, and I’m looking forward to meeting students where they are, attending events, visiting residence halls, inviting them to lunch and creating the opportunity for frank discussions. We live in a rapidly changing world, and I hope to work with students on engagement and advocacy that prepares them for a life filled with purpose.”
According to search committee member Estheralice Lopez ’22, a photojournalism major in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a Posse Scholar, Groves’ passion for working directly with—and on behalf of—students came through in interviews. “He is not shy about confronting difficult issues, working collaboratively to find solutions and giving students resources they need to thrive. I believe he will be a tremendous advocate for our student community.”
“I credit Syracuse University with changing the trajectory of my life,” says Banks. “To be able to return to an institution and create the type of experience that I had for other students is an honor I had not expected in my career. Today’s students are smart and savvy, but the challenges they face are demanding greater resources in dealing with mental and emotional health needs, and issues related to race, gender and sexuality. It’s our job to support, empower and prepare them to be successful—professionally and personally.”
“Cerri demonstrated a gift for collaboration and problem-solving,” says search committee member Ryan Golden ’21, who is vice president of the Student Association, majoring in policy studies and political science in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and religion in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Not only would she be a breath of fresh air at Syracuse, she also has both the vision and the demeanor to be a terrific asset to our campus community, and all students.”
As associate vice president and university dean of students at UVA, Groves had daily contact with students on issues of personal concern, including adjustment to the University community; tensions surrounding race, ethnicity and culture; alcohol and substance abuse; emotional and mental health; and the university’s Standards of Conduct. Previous to that role, he served as student affairs development officer. Prior to his academic career at UVA, he was a partner in the Atlanta, Georgia, law firms of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and McCullough Sherrill LLP. He also had extensive experience dealing with student issues as executive director of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
Groves received a B.A. in history at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, a J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law, and a certificate in crisis leadership in higher education at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Banks has been Skidmore College’s dean of students and vice president for student affairs for nearly five years, overseeing all student services, serving on the president’s cabinet and overseeing the bias response group and the COVID-19 campus planning and response. She served in a similar position at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, from 2011 to 2016, and at William Smith College in Geneva, New York, from 2009 to 2011, where she was also director of the President’s Commission on Inclusive Excellence.
Banks’ undergraduate degree from Syracuse University was in inclusive elementary and special education (2000). She earned an M.S. in cultural foundations of education in 2004, a C.A.S. in women’s studies in 2005 and a Ph.D. in cultural foundations of education in 2006. Her dissertation was titled “This is How We Do It! Black Women Undergraduate, Culture Capital and College Success-Reworking Discourse.”
Chancellor Syverud thanked the search committee, led by Candace Campbell Jackson, senior vice president and chief of staff to the Chancellor, and J. Cole Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Appointed last October, the committee represented diverse stakeholders and entities throughout the campus community that will work closely with the new leadership of the division. He also expressed gratitude for the three-person team who provided dedicated leadership while the search was being conducted, including Robert D. Hradsky, Ed.D., vice president for the student experience; Ryan Williams, vice president of enrollment services; and Brittany Zaehringer, senior associate vice president of operations and strategic initiatives.