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EDWARD B. SHILS, (W’36, G’37, GR’40, L’86, GL’90, GRL ’97), a skillful entrepreneur, educator and creator of a well-known lecture series at the Law School who doggedly pursued knowledge throughout his life, passed away last November. He was 89.
Dr. Shils earned six degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, including a J.D. from the Law School in 1986, at the age of 71. He held two other degrees from the Law School and degrees in economics and political science. A big believer in compromise rather than litigation, Dr. Shils established the annual Edward B. Shils Lecture in Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution at the Law School, drawing a panoply of distinguished speakers over the years.
But in a life packed with achievement, Dr. Shils made an even bigger impact on The Wharton School and as a sought-after business consultant. At Wharton, where he was the George W. Taylor Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurial Management, Dr. Shils founded the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center (now known as the Sol C. Snider Center) in 1973. It was the first of its kind - since emulated by close to 200 business schools. He chaired the Center until 1986. Dr. Shils was also chair of Wharton’s Management Departmentand created the Wharton Small Business Development
Daniel A. Levinthal, current chair of the Management Department, put Dr. Shils’ outsized contributions to Wharton in perspective at his memorial service.
"I don’t think there is a person who has walked down Locust Walk who has dedicated themselves in mind and spirit to the University of Pennsylvania more than Edward Shils," Levinthal told the overflow crowd. "Ed was extraordinarily generous to generations of faculty, staff, and students with his time, his wisdom, his kindness and financial assistance. But what made Ed’s acts of generosity especially remarkable is that this process of giving was not a burden for him."