Contact: Michael Traupman, Executive Director of College Relations, 610-740-3790

Allison Benner, College Relations Associate – Media, 610-740-3790


Betsy Curtis was the Daughter of the Ninth President of the College and was an Integral Member of the Cedar Crest Community Since 1908

Allentown, PA (May 11, 2005) — Cedar Crest College will dedicate its 135th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 14 to the memory of local alumna, Elizabeth Mae Curtis — who died on May 8, 2005 at Phoebe Home in Allentown, where she was a resident during her last years. She died just two months shy of her 101st birthday.

Curtis had a life-long involvement with Cedar Crest College. As a young child her parents brought her from Kansas City, where she was born, so her father, Dr. William F. Curtis, could accept the position of President of Cedar Crest College (then known as Allentown College for Women). With her family, they moved into the College’s old one-building campus on Fourth Street in Allentown.

Her father would become Cedar Crest’s longest-sitting president — and thus, one of its most influential — moving the College from downtown Allentown to its current west end location. Dr. Curtis served as president for 33 years until his death in 1941. His daughter’s tenure at the College would last even longer.

“Betsy and Cedar Crest were a wonderful, century-long love story,” said Cedar Crest College President Dorothy Blaney. “She came to the College at four years old when her father, Dr. Curtis, was named President in 1908. And she stayed here — learning, working and supporting Cedar Crest for decades after. She will never leave.”

Curtis attended kindergarten and preparatory school at the College — which was part of the curriculum at the time. She stayed on to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education in 1927. Upon graduation, Curtis became the College’s first registrar. As part of the position, she served as an admissions representative for the College. More than often, Curtis was the first contact a student would have at the College. Although Curtis officially retired as registrar in 1964, she actually continued to work in the admissions office at the College part time until 1970. The College then named her Registrar Emeritus. Even in her later years, Curtis remained a champion of Cedar Crest College — happily promoting Cedar Crest to most everyone she met.

Curtis was the first recipient of the College’s Alumnae Award — given by the Alumnae Association for distinguished service to the College — and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1973.

When bestowing the honorary doctorate on Curtis at the College’s commencement, Dr. Pauline Tompkins, president of the College at the time, remarked, “In a lifetime of unprecedented service to the College and genuine concern for those around you, you have been a vital influence in the growth of Cedar Crest and in the lives of students and alumnae. Your accomplishments are found not in books or material things, but are reflected in the College and in the people you have known.”

Curtis was active in theatre — both on campus and in the community. She was in the first Greek Play on campus — the College had the tradition of presenting Greek plays in its outdoor amphitheatre for many years — playing the role of Ismene in “Antigone.” She was also a member of the cast of “Outward Bound,” the first play ever produced by Civic Theatre of Allentown.

Curtis also was an accomplished poet. She continued to write poetry into her later years. Many of her poems were published.

At Saturday’s Commencement Ceremony, the College will honor two Lehigh Valley leaders and trustees of the College, Roland Siegel and Alice Anne Miller, with honorary doctorates of public service. (Please see previous release sent May 3, 2005)

The College is establishing a scholarship fund to honor Curtis. For more information, please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.




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