Associate Vice President for Student Academic Services
In her 16 years at Montclair, Allyson Straker-Banks held many positions – from associate dean overseeing several areas (New Student Experience, the Center for Advising and Adult Learning, the Educational Opportunity Fund Program and the Center for Academic Development and Assessment) to associate vice president sponsoring the creation of Red Hawk Central, the Center for Leadership and Engagement, the Center for Advising and Student Transitions (the precursor to University College) and, most recently, the redefined Center for Academic Success and Tutoring (CAST). Through it all, Straker-Banks, who retired this past summer, mentored and uplifted everyone in her path.
Center for Leadership and Engagement Director Duane Williams says that Straker-Banks was his mentor. “For me, she is almost a mother-like figure. She’s always pushing for young individuals, young males especially in an environment such as higher ed where Black males are not represented as much.” Amery Q. Thompson ’17 was inspired by Straker-Banks to work in Residential Life at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “She is one of a kind. She takes chances on people….That’s one of her superpowers – always willing to pour into others effortlessly but in such an intentional way. Now I’m following in her footsteps trying to do that for the next student.” Amanda Idiong, who will graduate in December with a degree in Child Advocacy and a minor in Theatre, met Straker-Banks while working at CAST. “She felt like family to me because my family is in Nigeria. So she was that person who I went to for guidance and advice, career-wise, relationship-wise.” Says Williams: “That is one of her gifts, where she really knows how to empower individuals. That’s her legacy.”
– Mary Barr Mann