Press Room

Stuart Weitzman to Speak at 2019 Commencement Ceremony

Award-winning designer and footwear icon Stuart Weitzman, the chairman emeritus of Stuart Weitzman, LLC, will speak at the Commencement Exercises of the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design on Saturday, May 18.

“If there is anything we wish for our graduates, it is that they become leaders of the professions they are entering,” said Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner. “I can’t imagine a better person to give them encouragement, this year of all years.”

In February, Penn named the School of Design in honor of Weitzman, a 1963 graduate of the Wharton School, in recognition of both his ongoing philanthropic support of the University and his active engagement in its academic activities.

“Stuart has been an inspiration to the thousands of students with whom he has connected in large lecture and smaller classroom settings, and through one-on-one conversations,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann in announcing the naming of the School. “Stuart’s inspiring example will enhance the School’s competitive position by enabling it to attract and support the highest-caliber students, strengthen its signature programs, and elevate its stature among the world’s premier schools of design.”

In addition, the School’s central plaza, located adjacent to College Green between Meyerson Hall and Fisher Fine Arts Library, will be named The Stuart Weitzman Plaza and will undergo significant redesign and renovation by renowned landscape architect, Laurie Olin, Practice Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the School of Design. Olin will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts from Penn at the University’s 263rd Commencement ceremony on May 20.

The Weitzman School’s commencement ceremony is a private, ticketed event for graduates and their guests.

About Stuart Weitzman

Stuart Weitzman was born into the business of design. His father and brother owned a shoe factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Young Weitzman, however, had no interest in following in his father’s footsteps, at least initially. With dreams of becoming a financial wizard, he enrolled at Wharton in 1959. Always creative and entrepreneurial, Weitzman made extra money by selling shoe sketches to a friend’s father and shoe factory owner in Brooklyn. Soon after graduating from Penn, Weitzman decided to join the family business as a designer—but just for a few years. Thanks to his unwavering work ethic, keen eye for aesthetics, and astute business sense, one year turned into many as Weitzman built the globally renowned company that still bears his name.

In 2015, Stuart Weitzman orchestrated the sale of the company to Coach (which was renamed Tapestry in October 2017 to reflect its multi-brand identity). Weitzman served as the creative director for the company through May 2017 and is currently chairman emeritus.

Since stepping down from an active role in business, Weitzman is hardly slowing down. He is a sought-after lecturer at universities around the world and also mentors the many students who seek his counsel on starting their own businesses. He is currently supporting the development of a museum in Madrid, Spain, dedicated to Spanish-Jewish history and is co-producing two plays for Broadway in 2019. As a member of the Board of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, he also contributes to the success of our aspiring Olympic athletes, and has been one himself, by representing the United States in table tennis at the Maccabiah Olympic Games. You may often see him with a racquet or paddle in his hand, and he welcomes all challengers.