About Dr. Edward B. Shils
For decades, Dr. Edward B. Shils was a driving force in American business and in the oral health community. Dr. Shils served as the Executive Director of the Dental Manufacturers of America and the Dental Dealers of America for almost 50 years and earned six degrees—including three doctorates—from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as a professor and Chair of the Management Department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Shils most significant contribution to Penn was the 1973 founding of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center, renamed in 1985 to the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Center, at Penn’s Wharton School of Business. While entrepreneurship is widely accepted as an academic discipline today, the Center was the first of its kind in the world.
“We got started early, when the whole idea of entrepreneurship was being formulated. To an entrepreneur, timing and pioneering are everything. We saw that both the students and the business community would not be satisfied with the cookie cutter approach to education. There was just too big an appetite for individualism. The entrepreneurial program had tremendous appeal.”
– Dr. Edward B. Shils
A true entrepreneur, Shils enthusiasm for learning and pursuit of innovation was remarkable. At the age of 68, after four decades of teaching, he enrolled in Penn’s Law School where he ultimately earned his law degree. By the age of 82, Shils led his economic consulting business and his entrepreneurial law practice in Center City, Philadelphia where he taught and advised students in the Wharton School.
No matter what he was working on at the time, it was passion that drove Dr. Shils: passion to excel, passion to create and passion to motivate. His insights and directives ultimately changed the landscape of the industry and impacted the future of thousands of students, businesspersons and hopeful entrepreneurs who would continue his legacy. His mentorship, sage advice and belief in the individual’s potential encouraged all those he touched to go further, compete harder and burn more brightly than ever before.
Because of his stewardship, scholarship, and encouragement of innovative business practices in dentistry, the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund was established by the dental industry to recognize those whose contributions reflect a similarly enduring commitment to innovation in the field of oral health.
“I have never met anyone who matched Ed’s entrepreneurial zeal and enthusiasm to connect people. He had an enduring quest for learning and a charismatic optimism that empowered everyone around him, especially young people. We should keep his vision clearly in our minds, his example strong in our hearts, and we should work together to expand the impact of the Shils Fund so we can pass Ed’s enduring legacy from generation to generation.”