On December 10th and 11th, 2015, the Hoover Institution brought together friends, supporters, and fellows to celebrate the ninety-fifth birthday of former secretary of state and Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow George P. Shultz.

Shultz’s extraordinary life certainly deserves celebration. His service to his country includes time as a US Marine in the Pacific theater during World War II. His service to the academy includes time as a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, where he was Dean of the Graduate School of Business, and Stanford University as one of the Hoover Institution’s most active fellows. Most notably, his service to the public includes countless influential appointments in government, including secretary of labor, first director of the Office of Management and Budget, secretary of the Treasury, and, under President Reagan, secretary of state. His legacy includes a major role in peacefully resolving the cold war and strengthening relationships with countries in the Asia Pacific, including China and Japan. He has earned numerous awards in recognition of his service, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Hoover took Shultz’s birthday as an opportunity to learn from his remarkable achievements, convening a symposium of top Hoover fellows, policy makers, and scholars to reflect on his life and work. On Thursday night, former Senator Bill Bradley delivered the keynote address at dinner entitled "Principle, Structure, and History in Public Policy Making." At Friday's symposium, four panels discussed the most prominent focal points of his career: Lessons Learned in Economic Policy; Lessons Learned in Security Affairs; Social Cohesion and American Institutions; and Policy Making in Action.

Throughout the wide range of discussions, the event was dominated by a common theme: George Shultz as a titan of statesmanship, whose uncompromising character and commitment to improving the human condition resonates in modern policy communities.

Several panelists commented on insights gained through their work with Shultz. Michael Boskin praised Shultz’s “backbone” as a policy maker by sticking to the principle that “sometimes in government, the best thing you can do is say no.” Condoleezza Rice described his vision of US institutions, recounting “how much George Shultz understands the essence of America . . . that that every life is worthy and every life is worthy of greatness—and that is ultimately the strongest reed on which democracy rests.” Countless others delivered similar appreciation, including Hoover Institution senior fellow Caroline Hoxby, former secretary of state James Baker III, and Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow General Jim Mattis.

A strong element of humor and camaraderie prevailed throughout the event, reflecting Shultz’s own warm personality. Senior Fellow Sidney Drell described his first meetings with Shultz to discuss nuclear security issues as “the start of a beautiful friendship”; Michael Boskin informed Shultz that if “we didn’t know your great integrity, we’d think you were lying about your age.”

Tad and Dianne Taube Director Tom Gilligan captured the spirit of the event, telling the audience, “We are lucky to count George as a colleague and fortunate indeed to benefit from his wisdom and leadership,” and describing the event as Hoover’s “small attempt to say thank you for all [Shultz has] done for our community.”

As so many made clear, George P. Shultz stands as a giant in the world of policy, in academia, at the Hoover Institution, and in the lives of so many of today’s most influential minds. Please join us in wishing him a very happy ninety-fifth birthday.

AGENDA (Click Here for Participant Bios)

Time FRIday, december 11
Thomas W. Gilligan, Tad and Dianne Taube Director, Hoover Institution
Moderator: John Shoven
Participants: Michael J. Boskin, John H. Cochrane, Caroline M. Hoxby and John B. Taylor
10:30 Am Break
Moderator: Gary Roughead
Participants: Sidney D. Drell, James O. Ellis Jr., Jim Mattis and William J. Perry
12:30 Pm Lunch
Moderator: David R. Henderson
Participants: David Davenport, Heather Mac Donald, Condoleezza Rice, and Kiron K. Skinner
3:15 PM Break
Moderator: David Brady
Participants: Michael Armacost, James A. Baker III, and Willie Brown
5:15 PM Reception


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