Virtual Founders Gala 2020

It is our hope to host Founders Gala 2021 in person next June.

About the 2020 President’s Medal Recipient

Esther B. Davidowitz
Trustee Emerita

Esther B. Davidowitz has been a dedicated leader and supporter of Wilkes University for nearly 50 years. She is a long-time advocate for culture and education at Wilkes, in the Wyoming Valley and throughout the world.

Mrs. Davidowitz was a member of the Wilkes Board of Trustees from 1973 through 2006 when she received emerita status. During her tenure on the board, Mrs. Davidowitz served as the treasurer and secretary, and was the chair of the academic program committee and executive board. She was a key player in the institution’s growth, most notably its evolution from Wilkes College to Wilkes University in 1990. Mrs. Davidowitz has been a close advisor and friend to the each of the University’s presidents and co-edited the writings of Wilkes’ founding president, Dr. Eugene S. Farley, in “Essays of an Educator.”

In addition to her Wilkes service, Essy has served in leadership positions for the Osterhout Free Library, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Ethics Institute, the Luzerne County Area Agency on Aging, Temple Israel of Wilkes-Barre, John Heinz Institute, the Jewish Community Center, King’s College, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, WVIA, the Northeast Pennsylvania Philharmonic and the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

Mrs. Davidowitz was a non-governmental representative to the local chapter of the United Nations for the National Council of Jewish Women. She was also a co-chair and delegate to the “Faith in Humankind Conference” of the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she was appointed as a delegate to the Global Peace Initiative of Women in Geneva, Switzerland. As a member of the advisory board, Mrs. Davidowitz was involved in creating courses at Wilkes that trained women on running small businesses and becoming financially independent. She developed similar courses for UNIFEM of the United Nations, the Afghan Women’s Business Council and the Kabul University working with Anne Friedman Glauber.

A prominent figure in the Wyoming Valley, Essy has received numerous accolades for her professional, civic and community efforts. She was awarded the Distinguished Community Service Award by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and was the recipient of the Hannah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women. Essy and her family have also been recognized by the borough of Kingston, Temple Israel and Generation2Generation for their work in the community. 

Essy is a graduate of Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, Pa., and Simmons College, Boston, Mass. She was recognized by both institutions as an outstanding graduate. A resident of Kingston, she and her late husband, William, were married for 62 years during which time he encouraged and supported their mutual endeavors. Mr. Davidowitz founded Penn Footwear in Nanticoke and was an integral partner, supporter and facilitator of the couple’s involvement in the community. They have four sons, Jeffrey, a member of the University’s board of trustees married to Sherry; Steven; Ivan, married to Cheri; Ben; and nine grandchildren.

Mrs. Davidowitz compiled, edited and contributed to a variety of books, essays and poetry collections. She was also a flutist and harpist who performed throughout the region. She helped establish the Muriel Bravman opera library collection housed in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts. Her service, leadership and contributions have been vital and true to the values of Wilkes University, and as such, she is a deserving recipient of the 2020 President’s Medal.


For more information about sponsorship and participation opportunities, please contact:

Margaret Steele
Chief Development Officer

About the First Generation Scholarship Fund

Wilkes University established the First Generation Scholarship Fund in 2014 to provide additional funding to make a Wilkes education attainable for first-generation students. The founders of Wilkes University recognized that helping young people attend college benefited the individual even as it strengthened the region, and they wove that into the fabric of the institution. Even after all these years, over half of our incoming freshmen still identify themselves as the first generation of their family to attend a four-year institution of higher learning. Wilkes University continues to play a vital role in opening opportunities that lead to success.

About the President’s Medal

The President’s Medal is bestowed annually on individuals whose personal and professional lives reflect the highest aspirations of Wilkes University. First awarded in 2014, the medal is presented to deserving individuals at the annual Founders Gala celebration. Click here to view a list of honorees.

Patrons requesting accommodations or services at Wilkes University or Wilkes University-sponsored events in accordance with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III: Public Accommodations are asked to contact the University at 1-800-Wilkes-U to request such services/accommodations. It is recommended that requests be made at least 48 hours prior to any event.