Wharton Now

In Memoriam: Professor Edward B. Shils

Edward ShilsDr. 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, died on November 14 at the age of 89.

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. He was teaching Management 248, “Executive Leadership,” this semester, nearly 20 years after his official retirement in 1985.

In 2001, Dr. Shils received the Penn Alumni Award of Merit, which cited his “excellence in teaching,” “unquenchable thirst for knowledge,” and the fact that he had touched countless students and alumni with his “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); and Finances and Financial Administration of the School District of Philadelphia(1940), and he was 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.

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