Obituary: Gustave H. Shubert, RAND Vice President and Founder of RAND Institute for Civil Justice
December 2, 2008
Gustave H. Shubert, founder of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and a RAND vice president, died of natural causes at a Los Angeles nursing home on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008. He was 79.
“Gus was a towering figure in RAND's history, both in its national security work and, to an even greater extent, in the establishment of domestic policy research at RAND,” said James A. Thomson, president and CEO of RAND. “It is due to Gus' leadership that RAND analyzes issues as diverse as K-12 education, climate change, civil justice, and health care policy while continuing to take on major national security questions.”
After serving as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, including a stint in Korea where he flew rescue missions for wounded soldiers, Shubert joined RAND in 1959 to research national security issues related to aerospace technology.
Shubert was head of RAND's economics department for two years and contributed analysis on such subjects as strategic air power, counterinsurgency operations, and NATO force planning. In 1964, he entered government service to lead the U.S.-NATO Defense Planning Teams in Paris. He returned to RAND in 1966 and became a member of the Research Council and coauthored several studies of American policy in Southeast Asia.
In 1968, he was elected a RAND vice president and trustee and charged with managing new programs of research in social and economic policy. Up until that point, RAND's main client was the U.S. Air Force, and its research focused almost exclusively on national security.
Shubert also was actively involved with the New York City RAND Institute. The Institute operated between 1968 and 1974, conducting research for then-New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay. Shubert also founded the Institute for Civil Justice at RAND in 1979, the nation's first research center devoted to unbiased, empirical, multidisciplinary research on the civil justice system.
“As the first director of the ICJ, Gus created an enduring and influential institution that carries on to this day the values of objectivity, relevance and quality that Gus embodied,” said Robert Reville, ICJ director. “I am frequently told by researchers and ICJ supporters how fondly they remember Gus. He will be dearly missed.”
“Gus epitomized the best of RAND – a desire to bring the best data, methods and analysis to complex public policy problems, to report the results clearly and coolly without regard to ideology or client preferences, and all the while to have fun,” said Deborah R. Hensler, former ICJ director and currently the Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution and associate dean for graduate studies at the Stanford Law School.
“He didn't suffer fools gladly and was impatient with bureaucratic nonsense but was warm and kind to his colleagues. He pressed RAND to hire and promote women and researchers of color, and opened doors for me both within and outside RAND.”
Shubert encouraged RAND analysts to take on the challenges of working in the highly politicized arena of civil justice, with little tradition of empirical research and even less money to fund such research.
“As a result of his efforts,” Hensler said, “civil justice policy in the United States is just a little bit better than it might have been and protagonists in the civil justice arena need to be prepared to answer the question, ‘Where are the data to support your position?'”
Shubert stepped down as senior vice president at RAND in 1989, and served as a senior fellow and corporate advisor until 2002.
“From a personal perspective, he taught me a lot about leadership and management and I'll be forever grateful to him for that,” Thomson said. “He was very hard-charging intellectually, worked very hard and was very curious about a lot of different topics.”
“He was a man of enormous integrity,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor to RAND. “To me, he exemplified everything that RAND stands for in terms of the quality and the independence of our research. Even when our clients might not necessarily like the conclusions, we would stand by them – that was Gus' position.”
He was born January 18, 1929, in Buffalo, New York, the son of Gustave Henri Shubert and Ada Mary Smith Shubert. He received a bachelor's degree in English and political science from Yale University in 1948 and a Master of Arts degree from New York University in 1955.
He was married to Rhea Brickman on March 29, 1952 in New York City. A Pacific Palisades resident, she survives along with their children Wendy Jackson of Pacific Palisades and David Shubert of Rockingham, North Carolina. Other survivors include two granddaughters, Mia and Sarah Jackson of Pacific Palisades.
Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, in the church at Matthew's Episcopal Church, 1031 Bienveneda Ave., Pacific Palisades, Calif.