Alumna Kathaleen Banks plans a gift to invest in adult learning
By Christine Smith, Senior Director of Advancement
Whether in the front of the classroom, corporate boardroom, or canine performance ring, alumna Kathaleen (Kathy) Shaffer Banks, Ph.D. ’82 follows a common theme: educate and lead. In fact, she and her husband Dennis intend for this purpose to be her legacy via an estate gift that will create the Kathaleen Banks Adult Learning Innovation Lab.
With a combined 10 years in secondary and post-secondary education and 20 years in two Fortune 500 manufacturing companies in executive leadership positions, this legacy symbolizes Kathy’s influence on adult learning and workforce development.
Kathy’s remarkable path was marked from the beginning when she was the first woman to graduate with a BS in Industrial and Technical Education from Ball State University. From there, she spent time in the classroom teaching and administering education programs to adults with special needs, which inspired her to earn a Master’s in Adolescent/Adult Special Education from the University of Kansas, after which she earned her Ph.D. in Practical Arts and Vocational Technical Education from Mizzou’s College of Education.
Her education background proved valuable to the corporate world, where she became the director of quality systems for Cummins, Inc., a multi-billion-dollar company that manufactures diesel engines, components and power systems. She would then continue to grow her career in the auto industry, becoming vice president of quality at Arvin, Inc. and then vice president of continuous improvement and leadership development at ArvinMeritor.
In both companies, Kathy worked alongside senior management to develop and apply educational models that would lead the design of cross-functional organizational improvement (manufacturing, engineering, marketing) as well as the integration of work across these organizations. This new way of working resulted in higher quality products, lowered operating costs and therefore increased shareholder value in both companies.
Kathy’s expertise was recognized and called upon within the manufacturing sector, serving on the Board of Directors of the Manufacturing Alliance National Quality Council and as a member the international committee for release of ISO (International Quality Standards) and guidelines for higher education. She once consulted for the Indiana State Education Superintendent’s office, where she helped staff implement a quality system in the state’s education initiatives.
In the College of Education, Kathy was recognized as the 2008 Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award, was the 2019 Commencement speaker, and is now serving on the Advisory Board for the new Mizzou Education Business Initiative in the College.
Kathy and her husband Dennis retired to Arizona, but that didn’t stop her skill acquisition and her passion for training. This time, though, it was in canine form. Her beloved Ruby Ellis, a springer spaniel, took to training and competition. Since, Kathy has developed the skills to become an agility competitor and training coach. A trip to Europe led her to discover the Stabyhoun, one of the top five rarest dog breeds in the world. Her beloved Jesse Dori and Skylar London joined the family, and Kathy now serves as the committee chair for the Behavior and Training Committee of the Ameri-Can Stabyhoun Association.
This lifelong passion for training and development was materialized in the development of Kathy’s legacy at the College of Education, where she credits mentors such as Drs. Jo Behymer and Nan Erickson as inspiring educators. When it came time to determine her legacy, it was obvious that innovation, adult education and lifelong learning would be at the core, hence the planning of the Kathaleen Banks Adult Learning Innovation Lab.
Upon creation, the lab will develop technology-based learning solutions for workforce professional development and create a repository for these solutions. This repository would virtually connect a national audience with just-in- time learning opportunities to well position them for success in current positions and support transitions into new professional opportunities.
Kathy credits her own growth as the source of inspiration to help others seek new skills throughout their careers:
“Career growth caused me to look for and gain new skills or complimentary experiences that would broaden or give depth to my core expertise – education. In the fast pace of world changes, this enabled me to not only remain an agile member of the workforce, but one who could creatively challenge and improve the status quo. Be willing to learn new knowledge areas so that you will gain bench strength beyond a single or a few competencies.”
Because of the foresight of the Kathaleen Banks Adult Learning Innovation Lab, future generations will find opportunities for growth and so much more.
“This life-long learning will give you the courage to open the next door in your career – or your life.”