Trustee Edna Shanis Tuttleman
Edna Shanis Tuttleman’s role as an agent of change at Temple began while she was still in her teens, when her fellow sophomores at Temple elected her class president in 1939.
The next year, she was elected president of her junior class. Then it happened again her senior year.
No female had ever held the office of Temple class president until then.
The Temple Review recently asked her to explain how this revolution came to pass. “I started out a shy young woman,” she said. “I guess I just blossomed at Temple.”
In the decades since she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1942 from the School of Commerce — now The Fox School of Business and Management — Tuttleman has done her part to help other Temple students blossom.
Tuttleman and her husband, Stan, are among the University’s most generous benefactors. Gifts from the Tuttleman Family Foundation have transformed Temple, making possible the construction of the Main Campus’ academic epicenter, the Tuttleman Learning Center, and the creation of Tuttleman Counseling Services at the Tuttleman Counseling Center, a place where students can discuss their emotional, educational and career concerns.
A Temple trustee since 1993, Edna Tuttleman has described her own time as an undergraduate as “the most exciting period of my life.” That’s no small praise, given her post-Temple career.
She graduated during World War II, a time when many young Americans felt a call to national service. After working in the accounting department at RCA in Camden, Tuttleman enlisted in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), a newly formed branch of the Navy. She received officer’s training at Smith College in Massachusetts, eventually achieving the rank of lieutenant (junior grade), and was assigned to encode and decode secret communications at a naval base in Boston.
After the war, she enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on the G.I. Bill. (A passionate art collector and supporter of young artists, Tuttleman later endowed the directorship of the academy.)
Tuttleman then spent two decades running the design operations of Corner House, a ladies’ apparel manufacturing and retail firm launched by her husband, Stan. The company was eventually sold to The Limited.
And somehow, during those busy, productive years, Tuttleman raised five children.
Although retired, the Tuttlemans continue to shape the region through their generosity, the effects of which are inescapable: The Tuttleman Center at Philadelphia University, the Tuttleman Library at Gratz College, the Tuttleman IMAX Theater at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, the Tuttleman Center at Graduate Hospital and the Edna Shanis Tuttleman Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art represent just a portion of their legacy.
Yet few Philadelphians have felt the positive impact of Edna Tuttleman and her family more than her intellectual descendants, Temple students past and present.
“When I look at the faces of Temple students, I feel instantly connected with them,” she said at the opening of the Tuttleman Learning Center in 1999. “It’s a blessing to be able to help the University with its valiant efforts.”
By Hillel J. Hoffmann