Professor Jess Hanks

The Biology Department mourns the death of Professor Hanks on August 27, 2001, of colon cancer. Dr. Hanks spent his entire career at City College and was venerated for his dedication to the students of CCNY.  In a science division where most of the students are pre-meds, Jess was able to inspire large numbers of students to study Botany and Ecology.  His courses were always full to overflowing.  Many Biology students have said that his courses and his advice changed their lives.

In 1990, he won the “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” award.  He was very honored to win this prize because he considered it the highest award bestowed by the College.  Even in his last days, he kept teaching.  He arranged his chemotherapy schedule around his coursework.  When he was asked if he needed a lighter schedule, he declined and said that he wanted to keep doing what he loved best as long as he could.

Jess was also known in the greater college community for his work on curriculum issues.  He was a quiet person, but when he spoke it was always to the point.  Over the last year, he was a major contributor to the revision of the Biology department core.

In addition to his other accomplishments, Jess was a world authority on secondary succession in Northeastern forests.  He was a consultant for the US Forestry service on conservation and advised communities in the suburbs of NYC on environmental problems.

 Jess will be sorely missed.

The Department and Jess's friends have established a scholarship fund in memory of Jess and as a tribute to his commitment to undergraduate education. An award will be made annually to a student who has successfully completed the Department's core curriculum and who demonstrates particular interest and promise in ecological and environmental sciences. Donations to The Jess Hanks Fund can be sent to the Department's chair, Dr. John Lee, Biology Department, The City College, Convent Avenue at 138th Street, New York, NY 10031. Questions regarding the fund can be sent to
RF Rockwell.

 The Biology Department held a memorial service to reflect on Jess and his many contributions to the Department and especially to students on October 4, 2001 in Shepherd 95. His colleague and friend Robert Rockwell hosted a series of speakers who eulogized Jess by sharing personal moments and praising his never-ending commitment to the undergraduates of the City College. Those heard from included Emeritus Professors Louis Levine, Robert Shields and James Organ; Professors Ethan Akin, Sally Hoskins and Jerry Guyden and Doctoral candidate Barbara Pezzanite. Dr.'s Hoskins and Guyden included
poems in their comments that are linked to this page. A large number of colleagues and students added their toughts during an open comment session. Dr. Gail Simmons who was with the Department until recently, set a perfect tone sinnging a trio of songs to her own guitar accompaniment. The lyrics are also linked. The backdrop for the reflections was the display of a series of images of Jess, his students and his flowers and favorite places. They will soon be added to the site so come back and visit often. (If you need to install the acrobat reader to read the linked poems and lyrics, try the link below.)

Jess and one of his many groups of Botany students


Department of Biology
The City College of CUNY
Marshak Science Building J526
Convent Avenue at 138th Street
New York, NY 10031
Phone: 212.650.6800
Fax: 212.650.8585


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comments - revised 10/23/01