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  • Shirley Hufstedler
    Credit: Caltech Archives
  • Judge Shirley Hufstedler with students.
    Credit: Caltech Archives
  • Judge Shirley Hufstedler speaking at the OVRO dedication ceremony on May 4th, 1985.
    Credit: Caltech Archives
04/13/2016 16:05:59

The Honorable Shirley M. Hufstedler, 1925–2016

The Honorable Shirley M. Hufstedler—a former federal judge, the nation's first secretary of education, and a Caltech senior trustee—passed away on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Glendale, California. She was 90.

Hufstedler was born on August 24, 1925, in Denver, Colorado, and received her bachelor of business administration degree from the University of New Mexico in 1945 at the age of 19, and her law degree from Stanford University in 1949.

After a decade in private practice in Los Angeles, she served for a year as special legal consultant to the attorney general of California in regard to Colorado River litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1961, she was appointed judge of the L.A. County Superior Court, a position to which she was elected in 1962. In 1966, she was appointed associate justice of the California Court of Appeal. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where she served for 11 years before President Jimmy Carter appointed her secretary of education. In 1981 Hufstedler left public service and began teaching and practicing law. She was a partner in the firm of Hufstedler & Kaus, now merged into Morrison & Foerster, where she was senior of counsel.

She served on the boards of directors of Harman International Industries, Hewlett-Packard Co., and U.S. West, and was emerita director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Salzburg Seminar. She chaired the United States Commission on Immigration Reform in 1996–97.

The author of numerous articles for professional journals, newspapers, and magazines in the fields of law, education, government, and national and international affairs, Hufstedler was the recipient of 20 honorary degrees from universities and colleges. Among her other awards and honors were the Earl Warren Medal, the Louis D. Brandeis Medal, and the American Bar Association Medal for 1995. She was a member of the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the Pacific Council, as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hufstedler first served on Caltech's Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1979. She was reelected to the Board in 1981, following her service as the first United States Secretary of Education. In total, Hufstedler was a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees for 39 years, serving on three trustee presidential committees and as a member of the Executive Committee. As chair of the Board's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Committee, she was an advocate for JPL missions and programs. Additionally, Hufstedler was an advisor to the broader Caltech community on a variety of diverse topics such as women's issues and student life, the latter of which led to the Moore-Hufstedler Fund being created in her honor.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Seth Hufstedler, whom she met while both were law students at Stanford; her son, Steven Hufstedler; and three grandchildren.

Written by Kathy Svitil