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Pursuing Human Progress, Frederick Pardee Gives $7 Million

Gift brings alum’s Campaign donations to BU to $10 million

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Frederick Pardee, RAND Corporation, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Boston University

Frederick S. Pardee has given an additional $7 million to his eponymous center at BU. Photo by Fred Sway

Growing up during the turmoil of World War II, Frederick Pardee began dreaming of peace among nations and a better human condition. The School of Management nurtured his vision; he studied Lewis Mumford, the famous historian of technology and cities, who Pardee says inspired him as “a dreamer of the future.” After graduating in 1954 and a stint in the Air Force, he took a $7,500-a-year economist’s job at the nonprofit RAND Corporation, where the number crunching he learned at BU served him well as he analyzed social, political, and economic problems.

He segued into a lucrative career running an apartment building management firm in Los Angeles. But Pardee (SMG’54, GSM’54, Hon.’06) never forgot the past, and he was captivated by the possibilities of the future, which explains in part why he gave money to establish the University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future in 2000. Now, as part of the Campaign for Boston University, the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, he has given another $7 million to support the center’s work and global education at BU, boosting his total donations to the Campaign to $10 million.

“I was very appreciative of the fact that BU provided me with a scholarship,” Pardee says. “My time at BU would have been much more difficult had I had to work between classes.” The Pardee Center fulfills his aspirations for his legacy, he adds, because “global human progress is what I’m interested in.”

“The funds will help support the activities of the center, which is one of our most important interdisciplinary academic efforts,” says Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer. The gift “expands the capacity of the center to support important research and scholarship in global studies. One of the critical aspects the Pardee Center focuses on is the human condition, and how we can work to improve the quality of the human condition. There are many places around the globe where the quality of people’s lives—with disease and famine—should not be acceptable in 2013.”

The Pardee Center has a new director, Anthony Janetos, who arrives in May. Janetos is a Princeton-trained ecologist with nearly three decades of experience researching and doing policy analysis on the impact of global climate change. He comes from the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, where he has been director since 2006.

The most recent gift brings Pardee’s lifetime contributions to the University to almost $20 million, says Glenn Vivian, director of planned giving at Development and Alumni Relations. “That puts him on a list of some of our strongest supporters.”

The gifts have also made Pardee’s name ubiquitous on campus. Beyond his namesake center (headquartered in the Pardee House) and its named professorship, the School of Management library is named for him, as is a research fund. He also donated to a fund that paid for a global health conference.

Pardee, a native of Bolton, Mass., brought a rigorous work ethic with him to BU, where he studied summers and carried extra courses to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at the same time. He has been similarly generous to RAND, donating money for an analogue to the Pardee Center and for RAND’s graduate school in public policy—which was renamed the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School.

13 Comments
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

13 Comments on Pursuing Human Progress, Frederick Pardee Gives $7 Million

  • Patricia Hills on 03.20.2013 at 8:27 am

    Wonderful news. I trust the Humanities will play a role in the Center’s vision.
    And let’s not just talk about the “human condition” – a 1950s term – but “the human situation.” Birth and Death are not the same everywhere. Being born in poverty is quite different than being born into wealth; dying impoverished and alone is different from dying surrounded by loving families and the comforts of a stable home.

    • Pardee-san on 03.22.2013 at 11:24 am

      Pardee was a RAND man; there, they seem to think there that quantitative research is the key to predicting of the longer-range future. I would submit that to understand the deeper movements of history, perform holistic analyses, and engage in truly sound policymaking takes more than big data; it is a way of seeing the world informed by the humanities.
      I’ve been a candidate for Pardee fellowships three times with projects on international ethics and judgment and have to say, they do not seem to be receptive to that way of seeing the world, at least as I’ve articulated it. Too enamored by a narrow scientific (environmental) definitions of sustainability to appreciate that human ecology comprehends politics (even if politics does not comprehend ecology).

      • Les Kaufman on 04.20.2013 at 11:16 am

        Those involved in the efforts at the Pardee Center are not at all ignoring humanities-based perspectives. The question is how to best incorporate them. By the way, politics is part of the set of dynamics that are about human behavior and decision-making. This is absolutely core to our environmental future, so it is difficult to see the environmental definition of sustainability as narrow. Since our material needs are met exclusively by nature, what other definition is there? Culture and governance are are essential to the crafting of durable lifestyles, but it is still all about how people and society learn to sit gently in the cradle of natural systems.

  • Travis on 03.20.2013 at 8:32 am

    Great! Now BU doesn’t have to raise their tuition.

    • BU Alum on 03.20.2013 at 10:44 am

      If you want low tuition, transfer to UMass.

    • Alumnus on 03.20.2013 at 10:57 am

      You know that alumni campaign donations don’t impact tuition, right? They have little if anything to do with each other.

      If you’d read the article rather than jumping right to the comments section to sing your cliche refrain, you would have realized that Pardee’s donation goes to furthering his center and global education.

      • Anon on 03.20.2013 at 2:24 pm

        I believe our joke detectors are well off.

      • BUjunior on 03.20.2013 at 6:06 pm

        For an alumn im surprised nobody ever taught you about sarcasm.

      • Anish K on 03.21.2013 at 12:51 pm

        Actually you are a bit off. The $1 Billion dollar does impact tuition for current students in that a portion of it has been ear marked for Financial Aid and student support (Specifically: $150 million of $1 billion the campaign seeks to raise is for student support).

  • parent on 03.20.2013 at 9:22 am

    I feel that President Brown and his team are really pushing and getting wonderful results for BU! keep up the good work!

  • Bill on 03.20.2013 at 9:44 am

    Mr. Pardee has truly been a great benefactor to BU. It’s not just his generosity though. His vision for the Pardee Center has helped to support many research initiatives that contribute to problem-oriented knowledge and support informed policymaking. Thank you, Mr. Pardee!

    • Alumnus on 03.20.2013 at 10:58 am

      Seconded. Thank you, Mr. Pardee.

  • Joe Nangle (SMG '12) on 03.20.2013 at 12:40 pm

    This is fantastic news. The Pardee lectures and seminars were hugely inspiring and educational during my time at BU. They played a big role in the work I did through Net Impact and sustainability @ BU, which is probably my most cherished contribution and takeaway from my time at BU.

    However, I truly appreciate that those were all team efforts and required support from many parties. Mr. Pardee’s contributions deserve immense thanks.

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