Elizabeth Courtney “Betty” Banks

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.

7 Condolences

  1. Sharilyn Wells on October 22, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Goodbye Betty

  2. Cindy Schott Hutchison on October 25, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Betty led a rewarding life. Many benefited from her teaching and strength.

    Cindy Schott [cousin]

  3. Nancy Bregman on October 26, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Betty always greeted me with a friendly smile when I visited my mother-in-law at Pioneer Ridge Independent Living. I know she will be missed!

    Nancy Bregman

  4. Jim Woelfel on October 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Betty leaves a memorable legacy as a beloved teacher, a dedicated archaeologist, a tireless activist for social justice, an unforgettable personality, and a good friend to my late wife and me and to our family.

  5. Debbie Vignatelli on October 26, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Always enjoyed seeing Betty during visitis to her retirement community. Friendly and engaging, she was one of the residents you could count on seeing out and about mingling with others. Her distinguished career and life adventures are most impressive. May you rest in peace, friend.

  6. Kathy Rose-Mockry on October 28, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Betty was an inspiration to so many of us. She fought for women’s rights at a time that it was difficult and risky to do so. But most important, I remember her curiosity, caring, and willingness to go the extra mile for others. What a contribution she made.

  7. Anna Osborne on May 6, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    I’ll never forget Professor Banks shouting “see you in Athens!” as my best friend and I walked down the hill on grad day in 1990. She loved what she did and had such a wonderful influence on anyone who was lucky enough to know her! We had such an amazing time in Athens with her and I am grateful for her enthusiasm and respect foe the Classics and Women’s Studies❤️

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