Bringing Smiles to Wilkes: The Betsy Bell Condron Papers

Wilkes University Archives has a guest blog post written by Emily Cherkauskas, a Junior Double Major in Communication Studies and English with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender studies. Emily is a staff member of The Beacon as an editor for the Life, Arts & Entertainment section and will work as Editor-in-Chief for the Fall 2021 semester. She plans to go into a career that allows her to utilize and enhance her writing and research skills.  For Summer 2021, Emily processed the Betsy Bell Condron papers and created a finding aid that can be found here. Below are her reflections on the collection.

This summer, I processed the Betsy Bell Condron papers. Betsy Bell Condron served as the Director of Planned Giving, Development, Community Relations and Special Events at Wilkes University from 1979 to 1998. The collection includes files dated from 1873-2004, with the bulk of materials dated from 1979-1998.

Many of the documents within the Betsy Bell Condron collection contain sensitive or confidential information and are currently restricted from public dissemination at this time. A majority of these restricted documents include memorandum, correspondence, committee meeting minutes and agendas, financial statements and donor information, resumes/curriculum vitae, addresses, and legal deeds for estates and trust funds. These materials will be available for viewing within 50-80 years from the date of their creation.

Aside from the materials listed above, the Betsy Bell Condron Papers collection also includes event programs, flyers, institutional reports, academic articles, anthologies and biographies, news articles and newsletters, scans of photographs and processed photographs kept in plastic sleeves, historical certificates, and informational campus materials. These are not restricted and are available for research.

Condron was born in Kingston, PA, on March 15, 1928. She was a graduate of the Wilkes-Barre Day School (now known as Wyoming Seminary), followed by Skidmore College, and later earned her master’s degree in education from Wilkes. Prior to her career at Wilkes, she had already created for herself a successful and expansive career. 

Condron’s previous experience included teaching at the Northampton School for Girls and Wyoming Seminary, where she served as college placement director for 1969-1979. Condron also served in a large variety of administrative positions outside of Wilkes. These roles included being high-ranking members of Governor Scranton’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Education Committee of Pennsylvania Task Force on Health Manpower; the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Campaign Committee, the Mid-Atlantic States Y-Teen Boards, the Pennsylvania Task Force on Health Manpower, the International Association of Junior Leagues of America, vice the Pennsylvania Council of Home Health Services, the Medical College of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Board, and Skidmore College’s Alumnae and Leadership Board.

Condron’s experience in the educational field and on local and national boards brought a strong track record of organizational and public relations skills, which she began to utilize for Wilkes in 1979.

As the Director of Planned Giving, Development, Community Relations and Special Events, Condron had a variety of responsibilities that aimed to maintain and improve the face and perception of Wilkes in the eyes of students, faculty, alumni, donors, and the community.

Not only was she involved with Planned Giving, but Condron also played an integral role in other fundraising efforts, including the annual Capital Campaign. Condron’s marketing initiatives were able to show the importance of these contributions.

It was important for Wilkes to have a continuous positive relationship with the community, and Condron was able to help in that regard, even down to little details that allowed Wilkes to be genuine and conscientious to the public and its donors. Condron aided in improving Wilkes’s image in many events over the years, including the annual John Wilkes Club dinner, commencement and convocation ceremonies, the annual Max Rosenn Lecture Series and Rosenn’s courthouse dedication, and community events that showcased Wilkes. She also served as a member of the selection board for the Hahnemann Medical College-Wilkes University program. This also included correspondence with outside organizations, such as the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association, or Project Harmony that hosted Belarussian students on campus in the 90s.

Condron also handled important duties of maintaining historical information regarding items and properties that had been donated to Wilkes. Notable examples include the historic Kirby Hall, the Bell Tower, and others. Other important donations included contributions to the Farley Library. Condron maintained personal correspondence with a large number of these donors, helping to inspire recurring and new donors to contribute to Wilkes. 

Condron also had a personal scrapbook of the artist Dorothy Morgan, where she documented important events and held prints of the artist’s work. The full scrapbook can be found within the finding aid or on our Digital Repository, Omeka.

Condron’s correspondence with both Wilkes members and outside members of the community was consistent with her charismatic and positive nature. Each letter or memorandum was always personal, even with a smiley face drawn on the paper. This friendly tone regarding professional and private communication brought a conversational and approachable attitude from the Wilkes administration, creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for students, faculty, alumni, donors, and visitors. Her dedication to Wilkes earned her the Wilkes Colonel Award.

Betsy Bell Condron passed away on January 10, 2020. Condron’s contributions to Wilkes brought a new sense of humbleness and positivity to the Wilkes and outside communities, improving the face of the institution.

The Betsy Bell Condron Papers will be useful regarding the research or examination of public relations, event procedures, fundraising, historical campus development, correspondence, lecture series, and commencement/convocation/inauguration procedures. Condron’s personable demeanor permeated through her interactions with the Wilkes community and her contributions to this campus will be remembered.  

2 thoughts on “Bringing Smiles to Wilkes: The Betsy Bell Condron Papers

  1. To Emily Cherkauskas- Wow this is such a lovely tribute to my mother and quite an undertaking on your part. I would love to have a short conversation with you about this. My email is below.
    Thank you for all your hard work.
    Sally Van Why


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