When George Shultz ’42 passed away this weekend, not long after celebrating his 100th birthday, Princeton lost an alumnus who brilliantly exemplified this University’s ideals of learning, integrity, and service to the nation and humanity.
After graduating from Princeton, Shultz served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He earned a doctorate in industrial economics from MIT, taught there, and became dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He was this country’s 11th Secretary of Labor, its first Director of the Office of Management and Budget, its 62nd Secretary of the Treasury, and its 60th Secretary of State. He led the Bechtel Corporation for eight years as its president and director. At the end of his career, up until his death, he held an appointment at the Hoover Institution.
In all of his jobs, George Shultz had a sterling reputation as a man who stood up for what was right. In his later years, he became a strong advocate for measures to stop climate change. George Shultz was the kind of man who attracted admirers from all parts of the political spectrum, the sort of person who is all too rare today.
Among Princetonians, of course, Secretary Shultz is also renowned for having one of the world’s most discussed tiger tattoos. His own references to the ink were often a bit coy. In 1987, for example, a reporter asked him why he was not running for president, and he replied, “I’m afraid the country is not ready for a president who might have a tiger tattooed on his rear end.” Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, I think that the country would have been quite lucky.
Rest in peace, George Shultz: You were a magnificent Princeton Tiger and a great American.