Investing in the Future

Keith Banks took advantage of every opportunity available to him.  
Now he’s making sure similar possibilities are there for others.

Growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, alumnus Keith Banks had friends from all walks of life. He knew families that did well, families that struggled, and everything in between. “Good people working hard,” is how Banks describes them.

Still a New Jersey resident, Banks NCAS’77 is vice chair at Bank of America and head of the Investment Solutions Group, where he is responsible for the Chief Investment Office, Alternative Investments and Specialty Asset Management, Capital Markets divisions, and the products and platforms supporting Merrill, Bank of America Private Bank and Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions—representing total client balances of more than $3 trillion. Prior to becoming the head of the Investment Solutions Group he was president of U.S. Trust, Bank of America’s Private Bank.

Keith Banks


Keith Banks NCAS'77

Douglas Benedict

The son of a father who joined the Marines to fight in the Korean War and a mother who “graduated high school and went to work,” Banks prides himself on his blue-collar, New Jersey roots. It’s a big part of who he is—and when it came time to consider college, Rutgers was a natural fit. He went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in economics and business from Rutgers University–Newark. 

“Rutgers taught me that you have to go after what you want,” says Banks. “Like most Rutgers students, I didn’t have a lot of contacts and didn’t have anyone pulling strings. You have to find your own opportunities, and I did. It gets you ready for life.”

As a first-year student, he recalls reading a section in the student handbook about awards and achievements—high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon (the international honor society for economics)—a number of which he circled and set as goals. He achieved them all, including the Wall Street Journal Award for the economics student most likely to succeed in business. “I realized that if I didn’t take advantage of that first key step that Rutgers offered, maybe I wouldn’t do some interesting things later in life.”

Banks maintains close ties with Rutgers. He made his first gift to Rutgers–Newark in 1987 to support the College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, his wife, Debra, and he have established scholarships for the university’s new Honors Living-Learning Community, the Department of Economics, and the School of Arts and Sciences–Newark as well as an endowed speaker series in economics. Bank serves on the Rutgers University Board of Governors, steadfast in helping advance the mission of Rutgers–Newark.

“For me, it’s a passion, a pleasure, and a privilege; I enjoy every moment I have when I’m with Rutgers.” 

— Patrick Monaghan

View a video of Keith Banks at


And Justice for All

As the first African-American woman to preside over the North Carolina
Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley has redefined what justice really looks like.

Cheri Beasley


Cheri Beasley DC'88

Jillian Clark

Portraits of former chief justices line the walls of the courtroom where the North Carolina Supreme Court meets. None of those illustrious predecessors looks quite like Cheri Beasley. In March, Beasley DC’88 became the first African-American woman to head North Carolina’s top court, which is celebrating its bicentennial year, and only the fourth to serve as chief justice of any state supreme court.

“I think about the little girls along the way who ought to have a sense of promise and hope for their futures,” she says. “This is certainly not the North Carolina of 200 years ago.”

Beasley grew up in Tennessee, where her mother worked as an academic administrator. As a Douglass undergraduate, Beasley came to value the opportunity “to see women supporting one another and to see the college supporting and encouraging young women leaders.”

Beasley’s postcollege job at a Tennessee agency investigating claims of discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations set her on the path to law school. “Seeing lawyers in action and really making a commitment to help people who were in need, I thought this would be the career for me,” Beasley says.

After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law, Beasley spent five years as a North Carolina public defender. “That experience helped me to be a better person and a better judge and a better member of the community,” she says. Working with defendants and their families made her realize that “we may have had different experiences and educational backgrounds, but we all have the same kinds of hopes and dreams and desires for ourselves and for our families and for our communities.”

In 1999, North Carolina’s governor appointed Beasley to a judicial vacancy on the state court. In subsequent years, through a combination of gubernatorial appointment and electoral success, she rose to the appeals court and then, in 2012, to the state supreme court. Her appointment as chief justice, replacing her predecessor, who became a law school dean, continues until next year, when she plans to run for election to a full eight-year term.

As chief justice, a job that involves not only deciding cases but also overseeing the state judicial system’s 6,000 employees, Beasley has introduced paid parental leave and begun modernizing outdated technology. “I have excitedly accepted the charge to really make sure that people have access to justice and access to our courts,” she says.

Her induction into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni is “a real honor,” says Beasley, acknowledging that public service, even high-profile work like hers, isn’t on everyone’s radar. So, when people do see value in that service, “it’s an awesome thing.”

— Deborah Yaffe

View a video of Cheri Beasley at


Taking the Lead

As a top executive at Johnson & Johnson, Robert E. Campbell helped shape
the face of health care today and establish a key part of Rutgers Health.

Robert E. Campbell


Robert E. Campbell SB'62

Douglas Benedict

Robert E. Campbell still sees similarities between his twentysomething self and today’s graduate students at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick (RBS). Whenever he has an opportunity to speak to them, Campbell SB’62 is reminded of his time at the business school. He would work all day at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in New Brunswick and then hop on the train to Newark for evening classes, working toward his M.B.A.

“I’d grab a hot dog at Penn Station and then walk over to the school on Washington Street and do my thing,” Campbell recalls. “Back in 1962, it wasn’t something everybody did. But Rutgers afforded me that opportunity and it was great.”

So great, in fact, that Campbell’s 2001 gift helped Rutgers establish the Robert E. Campbell Endowed Fellowship. The Campbell fellowships are awarded to full- or part-time students based on academic merit and financial need. More than 150 students have been named Campbell Fellows since the award was established. As Campbell notes, the world has changed a lot since his grad school days at RBS, but opportunity and hard work remain a constant for young professionals trying to get a leg up in today’s business world.

Campbell grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, a city with a past similar to that of New Brunswick: “a vital city where everybody came to shop on Friday and Saturday nights.” After he graduated from Fordham University, he was recruited to work at J&J. He left to serve three years with the Air Force, returning to J&J in 1959. He remained there his entire career, beginning as an accounting trainee and eventually rising to chief financial officer and vice chair of the board of directors, until his retirement in 1995.

Under Campbell’s watch as head of the Professional Sector, J&J introduced major medical devices including disposable contact lenses, endosurgery instruments, and cardio-vascular stents. Campbell helped J&J grow from a domestic company primarily focused on consumer products to an international corporation  with a leading edge in pharmaceuticals as well as professional devices.

That’s a long way from train rides and hot dogs at Newark’s Penn Station, but Campbell has never forgotten Rutgers and the spark it gave his career. In the early 1990s, he was instrumental in establishing the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, ensuring that Garden State residents had access to “the finest care possible, right here in New Jersey.” Now known as Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, it remains the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

As for his Rutgers legacy, Campbell says, “my only hope is that Rutgers would be proud of me as an alumnus and that some of the things I was able to accomplish could be a model for others.” 

— Patrick Monaghan

View a video of Robert E. Campbell at