He majored in economics at Princeton University, where he received a B.A. degree in 1942. During World War II he joined the United States Marine Corps, served in the Pacific arena, and advanced to the rank of captain. Shultz resumed his academic career by enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1945. He earned his Ph.D. degree in 1949 within the program of industrial economics, specializing in the problems of labor relations, employment, and unemployment. Shultz stayed on at the university until 1957 to teach industrial relations. During this time period he began to serve on arbitration panels for labor-management conflicts, a role he was to enact many times over the next decade. He also served at the first of his many national government posts when he was appointed senior staff economist to President Dwight Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors. In 1957 Shultz joined the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where he also taught industrial relations. He became dean of the school in 1962. Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson appointed him to serve on several government task forces and committees related to labor-management and employment policies. President Richard Nixon named Shultz to the post of secretary of labor on December 11, 1968. After 18 months at the Labor Department, he accepted President Nixon’s appointment to become the first director of the Office of Management and Budget. In May 1972 Shultz again changed posts in the Nixon administration and was appointed secretary of the treasury. Shultz resigned from government service in March 1974 and entered the business community. He became an executive vice president of the Bechtel Corporation, an international construction and engineering firm based in San Francisco. He later became president and a director of the Bechtel Group, Inc. Nominated as the 60th secretary of state by President Ronald Reagan, Shultz was sworn in on July 16, 1982. As the nation’s major adviser and negotiator of international affairs, Shultz was intimately involved with the important problems of the world. He sought plans to end conflicts in the Middle East and in Central America and to deal with international terrorism. As a member of the president’s team, he supported a strong American defense program, including a space-based anti-missile defense system (the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars). He guided U.S. arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union. A constant international traveller, he attended President Reagan’s meetings with Soviet leaders. His academic and labor arbitration background molded his approach to his work as secretary of state. He proved to be a thoughtful and careful operator and a firm believer in quiet diplomacy. He served as Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989, at which time he returned to the private sector as an educator (Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and Graduate School of Business) and writer. His entire cabinet service spanned over twelve years and covered four separate cabinet posts (Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Treasury, and Director of OMB.) He maintained a residence in Stanford, California.
Shultz was previously a member of Think Long California.