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Learning to Give: Christopher “Kip” Condron ’70

Learning to Give: Christopher “Kip” Condron ’70
Trustee Emeritus Christopher “Kip” Condron ‘70, former president and CEO of AXA Financial, stepped down as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees in May.

As a child, Christopher “Kip” Condron ’70, remembers going to Mass with his mother and five siblings. The family regularly sat at the end of the pew so when the collection basket passed, his mother could drop in a $5 bill and then pick out four ones to make change. 

Looking back, Condron was struck by that moment, and realized that not everyone in this world was taught to give. 

Including himself, at first.

“When my son was in kindergarten, I was asked to donate to the school. I said I was already paying tuition, so no thank you,” he said.

Now, things could not be more different. Condron, who was recently named trustee emeritus after stepping down as the chair of the University’s Board of Trustees in May, is well-known for giving and for encouraging others to do the same. 

University President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., summarized the Condrons’ impact, “At a time when we needed it most, God provided Kip and Peggy to help us strive to do more and to do better. They challenged the University to pursue greatness in ways that we hadn’t seen before and helped secure our future in ways we had never imagined.”

The Scranton native and former president and CEO of AXA Financial has contributed to his alma mater for many years. Over his four terms on the Board, he and his wife, Margaret “Peggy” Condron, Ph.D. (also a former trustee), co-chaired the Pride, Passion and Promise capital campaign, which raised $129 million for the University. 

Additional accomplishments include recruiting Fr. Quinn and serving as the founding chair of the University’s President’s Business Council. 

“My idea was to have an annual black-tie dinner in New York,” he said. “Many people wanted it in Scranton, Washington or Philadelphia, but I knew New York was the right place. We raised almost $700,000 the first year, and more than a million dollars every year since.”

While Condron was Board president, the University built a new student center, three residence halls and the Loyola Science Center. One of the residence halls, Condron Hall, was dedicated to Kip and Peggy for their many contributions to the school.

Condron, who enjoyed a long and successful career in global finance, said it was important to him to give back to places where he felt he could make the greatest impact. Condron’s love for the University developed during his undergraduate years. He chose Scranton for its proximity to home, but he came to appreciate the school more because of its Jesuit values. 

Upon graduation, Condron sold land in the Poconos then moved to Pittsburgh to work as a broker. There, he started Condron Associates, which was purchased by a subsidiary of American Express. He later held leadership roles at the Boston Company, served as CEO of Dreyfus and later president of Mellon Financial Corp. In 2001 he took the helm at AXA Financial, retiring in 2011. 

The path to success was achieved by following a simple plan. “I just continued to work and chopped the wood in front of me. Every so often, someone changed the pile. I always say to students: ‘Keep your head down, do your job. Whoever was looking over their shoulder never got anywhere.’”

At AXA, Condron was praised for his management skills, but former AXA colleague and University Trustee Mary Beth Farrell ’79 said he led by example.

“As a CEO, Kip was very clear with his senior executives about his philanthropic philosophy — look for something that you are passionate about, commit financial resources and support the mission by engaging through mentorship,” she said.

Even during retirement, Condron remains busy. He serves on the AllianceBernstein board, sits on the executive committee of the American Ireland Fund and also makes time to enjoy a slightly slower pace on his boats in Cape Cod and Florida. 

Condron is confident that the next generation is waiting in the wings, willing to give. “I’ve spoken to students who have said, ‘I can’t wait to be like you and give back to the University,’ and that’s great. I think in 15 and 20 years from now, pickings won’t be slim.”

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