Michael Banks has always been familiar with the Metropolitan Community College system, even while working on the eastern side of the state at St. Charles Community College. So when he found out about the opportunity to become president of MCC’s Blue River campus, he became intrigued.

Michael Banks has always been familiar with the Metropolitan Community College system, even while working on the eastern side of the state at St. Charles Community College. So when he found out about the opportunity to become president of MCC’s Blue River campus, he became intrigued.


“MCC has always had a strong reputation among Missouri community colleges for its quality of instruction and high standards,” he said about the decision to come to MCC-Blue River. “I got to know through the interview process the faculty, staff and administration, and it reinforced my belief that the focus truly is on the students and on the high standard of quality. I firmly believe this was a great opportunity, and it is a great fit for me right now.”


Banks was named the new president of the Blue River campus in January and is in his first week at the helm of the Independence community college. He replaced Joseph Seabrooks, who moved into the president position at MCC-Penn Valley.


Before coming to Blue River, he was vice president of academic and student affairs at St. Charles Community College in Cottleville, Mo., and was dean and division chair of the arts and humanities department. Almost all of his career, in fact, has been at the community college level, with the exception of a few years as a professor at Urbana (Ohio) University and at Xavier University in Cincinnati.


“Overall, I have been working in higher education and specifically in the community college sector for 25 years,” Banks said. “I think what that reflects is that the mission of community colleges really rings true with me. Students come to college so that they can succeed. Community colleges help students achieve these targets as well if not better than in any other sector. I am a strong supporter on the focus on academic rigor and with the community college’s open enrollment mission. It gives everyone the opportunity to achieve in very rigorous courses.”


Banks has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Saint Louis University and a master of fine arts in design and technical theater from Southern Illinois University. He also received a bachelor of arts in theater from Saint Louis University.


Banks said his next step is to take some time to listen to faculty and students about what they want to see for Blue River in the future. He said he believes even with the financial picture changing for many community colleges, attending such an institution will continue to offer the best bang for the buck.


“Community colleges have always prided themselves on being accessible to students, both financially and with its open enrollment policy. We don’t have entrance requirements, making it possible for anyone to attend,” he said. “Blue River needs to be a strong community partner with the business, industry and education communities because I think we all play a very important role within the community. We provide a lot of value and support, and we would like to be the first choice for a higher education institution among all members of the community. That includes traditional students who come here and those from the workforce who come to Blue River to get additional skills.”