George Pratt Shultz has had a distinguished career in government, academia, and business. He is one of just two individuals who have held four different federal cabinet posts; he was a U.S. Marine during World War II, he has taught at three of this country’s great universities, and for eight years he was president of a major engineering and construction company.
Shultz was born in New York City in 1920, and grew up in Englewood, New Jersey. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1942 with a BA in economics. Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served through 1945. He then resumed his studies, this time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned a PhD. in industrial economics in 1949. From 1948 to 1957 he taught at MIT, taking a leave of absence in 1955 to serve as a senior staff economist on President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers.
In 1957, Shultz joined the faculty of the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business as a professor of industrial relations. He was named dean five years later.
He returned to government when he was appointed as secretary of labor by President Nixon in 1969. In 1970 he became the first-ever director of the Office of Management and Budget and then served as treasury secretary from 1972-74.
Shultz left government service in 1974 to become president and director of the Bechtel Group, where he remained until 1982.
President Reagan first named Shultz as chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981–82) and then as secretary of state (1982–89). As secretary of state, he played a key role in implementing a foreign policy that led to the successful conclusion of the Cold War and the development of strong relationships between the United States and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region including China, Japan, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In January 1989, Shultz was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
After leaving office, Shultz rejoined the Bechtel Group as director and senior counselor. He also rejoined Stanford as professor of international economics at the Graduate School of Business and as a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution.