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Death of Dr. Edward Shils, Entrepreneurial Pioneer

E. Shils

Dr. Edward B. Shils, founder of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center (now the Sol C. Snider Center) and the George W. Taylor Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurial Management at the Wharton School, died on November 14 at the age of 89 after sustaining injuries in an auto accident.

The son of a cigar manufacturer, Dr. Shils enrolled at Wharton in 1933 and earned a B.S. in economics in 1936. He became a salesman for RCA Victor but returned to Penn earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science in 1937 and 1940 respectively.

In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps. When he left the military in 1946, he became a graduate lecturer in political science and chairman of the social science department at Community College of Temple University. He returned to Penn in 1955 as a lecturer on industrial relations in the Wharton School and in 1956 was appointed tenured associate professor of industry at Wharton.

During his lifetime career at Penn, Dr. Shils earned six degrees: W '36, G '37, GR '40, L '86, GL '90, GRL '97. He was the former chair of the management department at Wharton, The G.W. Taylor Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurial Studies, director emeritus of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center, and advisor to management students, and was teaching "Management 248, Executive Leadership" this semester, nearly 20 years after his official retirement in 1985.

In 2001, Dr. Shils received the Alumni Award of Merit. The citation (below) profiled his spirit and life of contributions:

"Your excellence in teaching and learning is not just a matter of degree but of degrees. With sixty years of involvement with Penn, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, you earned six Penn degrees, three of them when you were over the age of 70. You also have Honorary Degrees from Philadelphia University and Tel Aviv University.

As a Penn student, you were awarded the Harrison Graduate Fellowship in Political Science and became a Research Associate at the Fels Institute. After four years with the Army Signal Corps during World War II, you returned to the campus and began an uninterrupted career of teaching at the Wharton School, where you are now the George W. Taylor Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurial Management. Demonstrating the vision, intelligence, and creative spirit for which you are renowned, you founded and served as Director of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center, the first of its kind in the world. At the Law School, you created the Annual Shils Lecture in Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Along the way, you served as Chair of Wharton's Management Department, provided the pioneering study that created the University Science Center, served as President of the Faculty Club, created the Wharton Small Business Development Center, chaired the Dietrich Hall Rebuilding Committee, began your ongoing chairmanship of the Shils Zeidman Minority Entrepreneurial Fellowships, taught as Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the College of Arts and Science, and served as Penn's Judicial Administrator…among many other things. An active alumnus, you were Chair of Annual Giving for the Class of '36 and Gift Chair for your 65th Reunion. You have been recognized with the Anvil Award from the General Alumni Society and the Joseph Wharton Award from the Wharton Alumni Club. Currently you are at the forefront of fundraising for Wharton, the Law School, and the Dental School, where a boardroom in the Schattner Building is being named in your honor. You and your wife, who holds three Penn degrees, are the parents of a Penn alumna, and are also united in your support for the Edward B. Shils and Shirley R. Shils Term Professorship in International Management at Wharton and a Professorship in Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution at the Law School.

The list of your professional and civic activities away from campus is equally impressive. Always in demand and a talented arbitrator, consultant, and organization leader, you inspire others and are adept at bringing talented people together to solve problems. At Penn, you have touched hundreds of students and alumni with your teaching energy and enthusiasm, lucid insights, and wise council."

In addition to his work at Penn, Dr. Shils was also a member of the board of directors of Vishay Intertechnology, had a private law practice and owned an economic consulting firm through which he worked with the City of Philadelphia and the state. He was a consultant in the establishment of the Pennsylvania Teachers' Retirement Fund, and wrote reports for the city that led to the creation of the Community College of Philadelphia.

He was the author or co-author of six books in the subject areas of public finance, collective bargaining, entrepreneurship and labor-management relations, including Industrial Peacemaker: George W. Taylor's Contributions to Collective Bargaining (1979); Teachers, Administrators and Collective Bargaining (1968); Automation and Industrial Relations (1963); Finances and Financial Administration of the School District of Philadelphia (1940), and the author of approximately 100 journal articles or published studies.

Dr. Shils is survived by his wife, Shirley (CGS '84, CGS '90, G '93); daughters, Ronnie Burak and Nancy Shils (SAS '77, GSAS '86, GSE '01); son Barry; and two grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Shirley R. and Edward B. Shils Foundation at the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, 2100 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

A memorial service on campus will be announced at a later date.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 13, November 23, 2004


November 23, 2004
Volume 51 Number 13


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