Deceased September 17, 2007
Of all the impressive accomplishments that Howard Gittis, Esq., achieved during his lifetime—and there were many—perhaps the one that remains the most professionally captivating was the deep bond of mentorship between Gittis and Ronald Perelman, the billionaire financier and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. He spent 22 years with MacAndrews & Forbes, which has investments in consumer products and entertainment companies, including Revlon Inc. At the firm, Gittis supervised all legal, financial, and administrative affairs as chief administrative officer. “Howard was my closest friend and most trusted adviser,” Perelman said in an obituary statement. “He was a man of great wisdom, integrity, and humanity.”
During his career, Gittis also worked at Jones Apparel Group, M&F Worldwide, Panavision, Revlon, REV Holdings, and Scientific Games. Before making his way into the C-suite, Gittis came from much humbler beginnings—he was the son of Russian immigrants: “I’m the first in my family to go to college,” he told the Temple Times in 2004. “A good education enabled me to make a fine living, and I believe that you have to give back.” Gittis attended Central High School, just a few miles north of Temple. He received both a bachelor’s degree in economics and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. The Gittis name may sound familiar to the current Cherry and White masses, as his name adorns the Howard Gittis Student Center at 13th and Montgomery. As a young lawyer, Gittis became a Philadelphia fixture, litigating for 25 years at the law firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen. While there, he focused on real estate, and corporate acquisition, along with divestiture work. As a partner at the firm, he also served as chairman of the executive committee. Recognized as one of the top 100 attorneys by the Nation Law Journal in 1985, Gittis dabbled in politics. He served Philadelphia mayor Frank L. Rizzo during his recall attempt in the mid-1970s, and as the national finance co-chair for Senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz) presidential campaign in 2007. Gittis joined the Temple community through an endorsement from Dick Fox, namesake of the Fox School of Business. Fox invited Gittis to join the board, and he stayed on for 27 years. Eventually, Gittis succeeded Fox as chairman, a role in which he served for six years. According to university statements, he led the school through a “period of unprecedented growth,” as endowment grew by 45%, undergraduate applications jumped by 40% and enrollment increased by 17%. The university awarded Gittis an honorary degree in 1997. He put his words to action, and donated millions of dollars to Temple over the years, including a $1.5 million pledge to create the Ronald O. Perelman Professorship in Entrepreneurial Finance at the Fox School. “Of all the things I have endeavored to do in my life, my service to this university, next to my family, is the most significant to me,” said Howard Gittis at the Temple University Student Center renaming.
Temple University Degree
Honorary Degree ’97, Temple University
Temple University Awards & Affiliations
- Honorary Chair, Musser Tribute Committee, 2001
- Diamond Award, 1998, Temple Hospital Auxiliary
- Russell H. Conwell Award, 1997
- Board of Trustees, Former Chairman
- Board of Directors, Former, TUCM Center
- Board of Directors, Former, Temple University Health System
- Board of Governors, Former, TUH, Inc.
- Board of Visitors, Former, Beasley School of Law
- Chairman’s Circle