Stanley C. Middleman

Biography

Stanley Middleman is immediately personable. Quick with a self-deprecating joke, his humility shines through. When asked what led him to Temple, Mr. Middleman says his future wife wanted to go there, so he simply followed her. They met as students at Penn State—Ogontz. “I was just hoping to graduate,” he said. In reality, Mr. Middleman’s Temple experience was much more deliberate and meaningful. All these years later, what he remembers most vividly is how engaging his Fox School professors were. Gradually, they focused his ambition.

One professor helped Mr. Middleman land a position at nearby Girard Bank, where he worked a midnight to 8 a.m. shift so that it wouldn’t interfere with his classes (aside from the sleep deprivation). And on Mr. Middleman’s off days, he was a substitute teacher for the Philadelphia School District. All the while, between his classes and private interactions with the faculty, Mr. Middleman was also becoming fluent in the language of business, a process that would lay the foundation for his career. “If you’re going to run your own business,” he said, “you have to understand the vast implications of your decisions.” And make no mistake; he was going to run his own business. After graduation, Mr. Middleman spent the summer selling patriotic tchotchkes in Independence Mall. (It was the Bicentennial, after all.) Those weeks crystalized his desire to become an entrepreneur because he made a lot more than any of the other positions that came his way that summer. Mr. Middleman started selling insurance and annuities as the interest rate skyrocketed through the early eighties. Then, as it began to fall, he moved to lending. Thirty-five years later, the interest rate is finally beginning to show signs of veering from its steady decline, and Mr. Middleman’s company, Freedom Mortgage Corporation—which he founded in 1990—is the fifth-largest originator and servicer of loans in the country. The decades in between were far more volatile, of course. When Mr. Middleman entered the industry, local banks were the primary sources for mortgages. The boom and bust of the savings and loan institutions and then commercial banks followed in relatively quick succession. Today, the non-banking entities like Mr. Middleman’s rule the market. While Mr. Middleman’s ability to decipher profit-and-loss statements and balance sheets has served him well, he credits much of his success to focusing on the greater good. The people around him, he says, have made the difference. It’s Mr. Middleman’s willingness to find his motivation beyond his own immediate interests that brings him back to the Fox School to talk with students on the cusp of defining themselves. More recently he met with an even younger group, the entrepreneurs club at a high school near his Mount Laurel, New Jersey, office. “Interesting things leak into your life from the oddest of places,” he says. “If I can be one of those tidbits, lucky for all involved.”

Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Science ’76, Fox School of Business

Current Title & Company
Founder and CEO, Freedom Mortgage Corporation

Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
Recipient, Accounting Achievement Awards, 2017

What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
I wanted to be rich. I just didn’t know how to go about it yet.

Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
I was just starting out in insurance and annuities and a manager three or four levels above me told me that I had a bright future because I was sensitive and aware of my surroundings. It was the best compliment I ever received. It also turned out to be the best insight, because self-awareness leads to understanding that you grow far more by helping those around you than you do focusing on yourself.