Fred Pardee: Making a Difference

Fred Pardee attending a Pardee RAND Graduate School Board of Governors meeting on March 28, 2014

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Donor Profile Fred Pardee

Fred Pardee grew up in the shadow of World War II and has spent his life supporting the cause of human dignity and development around the world. He has given more than $22 million over his lifetime to RAND and the Pardee RAND Graduate School to support research on some of the world's most pressing problems.


Fred Pardee grew up in the shadow of World War II and has spent his life supporting the cause of human dignity and development around the world. His most recent gift to the Pardee RAND Graduate School will provide $3 million to expand the school's global reach.

The school has carried his name since 2003, when he donated $10 million to support its endowment, the largest individual gift in RAND's history. In all, he has given more than $22 million over his lifetime to RAND and Pardee RAND to support research on some of the world's most pressing problems, such as youth unemployment and food insecurity.

“I think about why I'm here,” he once said. “Why did I get placed on planet Earth? I've concluded that one is placed here to make a difference, and I want to make a difference by supporting institutions that will shape the future.”

Pardee worked as an economic analyst at RAND from 1957 to 1971; his starting salary was $7,500 a year. He made his fortune later as a real-estate investor and the head of a successful Los Angeles–area apartment management firm.

“I do believe it's possible to shape the future and improve the lot of the least advantaged with creative thinking by talented people.”

He often points to his childhood memories of distant war and unrest as the guiding force in his philanthropy. He has funded research centers at Boston University and the University of Denver to study ways to improve lives around the world. “Global human progress is what I'm interested in,” he has said.

His latest gift to Pardee RAND comes as the school is reimagining public policy education to more effectively address the problems of the 21st century. It will help expand the school's international focus, to include long-term international residencies for students and RAND researchers. It also will support student dissertations, research, and speakers with an international perspective.

Those efforts build on an existing program that Pardee funded at the school, the Pardee Initiative for Global Human Progress. In the past few years alone, it has funded student dissertations and RAND research on improving financial access to health care in sub-Saharan Africa; the cost of sexual violence in conflict areas; and barriers to HIV treatment in developing countries.

The school's plans also fit with a research focus at RAND on improving the quality and condition of human life, looking especially at the next 35 to 200 years. Such ventures, through the Pardee-funded Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, have included a recent examination of decarbonization as one way to address climate change.

His new gift to Pardee RAND is a continuation of those earlier ventures, ensuring that the redesigned school maintains its focus on solving problems worldwide.

“I'm not in the dream business,” Pardee once said. “But I do believe it's possible to shape the future and improve the lot of the least advantaged with creative thinking by talented people.”