» George P. Shultz Bust

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and a willingness
to act in its defense.”

- George P. Shultz

Critical Essay By
Dr. Thomas Campbell
Professor, Doy and Dee Henley Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence
Dale E. Fowler School of Law
View Bio

George P. Shultz served as Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor, director of OMB, president of the Bechtel Company, dean of the business school at the University of Chicago, an economics professor at MIT and Chicago, and Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He served in combat during World War II as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific. In 2013, Secretary Shultz gave the dedication speech for the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman. Several years earlier, Chapman had dedicated the bust of Secretary Shultz on the campus to serve as an inspiration to Chapman staff, students and faculty.

It is most fitting to honor Secretary Shultz in an academic setting because he was, and remained, a scholar his entire life. Upon leaving the Marine Corps, he entered graduate school at MIT, where he earned his doctorate in labor economics and industrial organization. He became a leading academic in the field of labor relations, publishing 15 books and many scholarly articles based on his own fieldwork. This record of scholarship led to his appointment to the economics and business faculty at MIT and at the University of Chicago, where, five years after becoming a professor, he was chosen to be dean of the business school. Except for his time in government service, and eight years as president of Bechtel, Secretary Shultz’ entire career was spent in academia. The open exchange of views based on research into actual experience that characterizes excellence in academics guided Secretary Shultz in his years of government service as well. It made him an effective administrator, known to all with whom he interacted as a man of open mind, accommodating to different opinions. Such a rare quality led to presidents choosing him for four different Cabinet positions – a distinction shared by only one other person in American history.

His greatest achievements in government came as Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration, from 1982 to 1989. This was the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War. That event was hastened by the inability of the Soviet Union to justify its increasingly obviously failing economic system to its own citizens and those of its Eastern European satellites. For years, the Soviets had denied those economic failures, then turned to blaming them on the arms race with America, and finally excusing them because of the supposed moral superiority of the Soviets over the West. Secretary Shultz directly countered that claim.

The Soviets insisted that America had no moral right to preach about how the USSR treated its own people. Look at the racial discrimination in the U.S., Soviet premiers would say. Secretary Shultz knew that America had to meet the Soviets with armed strength, but he also knew it was the ability of America’s system to correct our faults that gave us the moral authority, and obligation, to speak for freedom across the globe. In his meetings with his Soviet counterparts, Andrei Gromyko and Eduard Shevardnadze, Secretary Shultz would begin by reading a list of prisoners of conscience and refuseniks whose freedom the Soviets repressed. Then the meeting would proceed to the agreed-upon agenda. He did not make the resolution of those cases a prior condition to carrying on the other business of diplomacy. However, his actions quite literally said the prisoners came first. That practice in negotiating, and its being known around the world, was a powerful rebuttal to the Soviet attempt to remove the issue of human rights from the great-power discussions.

In his years after government service, Secretary Shultz pursued the “zero option” first broached by President Reagan at his 1986 summit with Soviet leader Gorbachev. The context then was intermediate nuclear weapons in Europe; instead of limiting them, Reagan proposed eliminating them. Working with other former Secretaries of State and Defense, and retired world leaders, Secretary Shultz pursued a much larger goal: a world entirely free of nuclear weapons. He was working on that project right up to his death in February of 2021.

In his speech at the dedication of the Fowler School of Law in 2013, Secretary Shultz predicted the tensions that were to erupt in our country seven years later. “We will have a collision in this country, maybe not as violent as we see in other countries, but we are going to see a necessity to sit back for a minute and say in this age, where people know what is going on and they can organize, we have to have a system of government that allows diversity to express itself and put that within a common framework.” See 17 Chapman Law Review 589, 597 (2014). 

The accuracy of this prediction should not surprise those who know Secretary Shultz’ background and experience. As Secretary of Labor, he realized federal government workers deserved the right of representation enjoyed by private sector employees. He was the driving force behind Executive Order 11491, which, in October of 1969, established those rights in law. The “common framework” to which he alluded in his dedication speech had to include labor and management, especially when management was as powerful as the federal government is.

Similarly, Secretary Shultz revised and implemented the Philadelphia Plan, to integrate the construction trades in several American cities after decades of segregation and discrimination. Secretary Shultz did not turn away from the reality of unequal treatment based on race. He confronted it, allowing “diversity to express itself . . . within a common framework.”

Secretary Shultz’ hope for America was unbounded, grounded in actual experience of which his own was part. He immersed himself in the practical obstacles facing America’s and the world’s progress toward improved living conditions and enhanced human rights. He was fond of saying “politics is not a spectator sport.” Though he could have led a distinguished career in academics alone, Secretary Shultz also had much to offer his country and his world in the sphere of public service. He lived up to the fullest of his remarkable potential.

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George Shultz bust


Ginny and Peter Ueberroth

Designation Name
The Donald Bren Distinguished
Chair in Business and Economics

Bruce Wolfe

Campus Location
Walkway between The
Fish Interfaith Center
and Hutton Sports
Cente, Orange Campus