Elizabeth Courtney “Betty” Banks passed away Saturday, October 10, 2020 in her home.
Elizabeth (“Betty”) Banks was an emerita professor of archaeology in the Department of Classics at the University of Kansas. Throughout her career she devoted her sharp intellect and keen eye to the Neolithic site of Lerna, in Greece where she excavated from 1952-1957, both as a Fulbright Scholar and as Capps Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Greece. She remained an active member of the American School throughout her career, as a regular member (in 1973 and 2009) and as a long-time member of the Managing Committee, on which she advocated for contributions from the Midwest.
Betty taught at the Universities of Missouri, Columbia and at Kentucky-Lexington before coming to the University of Kansas in 1966. At KU, Betty taught Greek and Roman archaeology and art. As curator of the Wilcox Classical Museum on the KU campus, Betty oversaw the modernization of the museum as well as the restoration and expansion of its collection. She put similar care into an extensive slide library for the Classics Department. Betty was passionate about undergraduate education and was awarded the J. Michael Young Outstanding Academic Adviser Award and the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award. She was also a fierce advocate for women’s rights. As one of the original “February Sisters,” she demanded improvements for women at KU including a women’s studies program, female university administrators, dedicated health care for women, children’s day care, and an affirmative action program for women faculty. By the Fall 1972, a women’s studies program was in place and most of the demands were fully implemented within the year.
Betty will remain known for her high standards in the teaching and practice of archaeology, for her forceful defense of women’s rights, for her riveting teaching, and for her critical attention to detail. Her keen energy and love of lively argument will be much missed.