TFAS mourns the passing of Jerry Hume, a businessman and philanthropist who chaired the board of the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE) for more than three decades. Hume helped engineer the merger of FTE into The Fund for American Studies, which culminated in 2013. FTE now operates as the high school division of TFAS. The mission of FTE is to introduce young people to an economic way of thinking about national and international issues –– and to promote excellence in economic education by helping teachers of economics become more effective educators.
Hume was an executive in his family’s business, Basic American Foods, which is headquartered in San Francisco. He also chaired the Jacquelin Hume Foundation, which was created by his father in 1962 and supported educational causes including charter and independent schools. As recounted by longtime FTE president Gary Walton, Hume transformed FTE in 1990 “from a producer of classroom teaching materials to hands-on, face-to-face instruction.” See a tribute below from Walton.
As a philanthropist supporting educational programs that developed innovative curricula, Hume was adamant that organizations do extensive evaluations to ensure that students actually learned what they were being taught. He encouraged grantees to do testing by outside, independent evaluators.
He insisted on receiving the assessments of FTE programs in the years following the merger with TFAS. TFAS President Roger Ream noted that “through his philanthropy and involvement in the nonprofit sector, Jerry helped organizations improve their performance by employing professional assessment. He was more than a donor to causes he believed in. He influenced the performance of the organizations he funded generously.”
Hume also served on the Boards of Trustees of The Heritage Foundation, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, The Foundation for Educational Choice, the Center for Education Reform, and DonorsTrust.
He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Patti Hume.
January 24, 2023
WILLIAM J. HUME
Jerry Hume died yesterday at his elegant home in San Francisco. He was seated at his desk looking out at his favorite view, the Golden Gate Bridge and skyline, after taking his daily walk. He is survived by his wife Patti, having recently celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary, and by his three children and spouses, six grandsons, and extended family.
For more than three decades Jerry led the Foundation for Teaching Economics, transforming it in 1990 from a producer of classroom teaching materials to hands on face-to-face instruction. I was fortunate at that time to be appointed President of the Foundation and to work with Jerry and Milton Friedman and other leading economists and educators to formulate experiential methods to teach economic reasoning propositions to guide and enhance better leadership decisions. Week-long Economics for Leaders programs, combining high school teachers and students selected for their leadership potential, were implemented in 1991 at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of California, Davis.
The success of the programs was so apparent that the Board of Trustees, with Jerry at the helm, promptly approved budget expansions to deliver the programs across the U.S. and Eastern Europe. At the outset of the fall of the Iron Curtain, the FTE helped the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania successfully transform into viable open market economies. The success of the programs also assured the FTE a stature nationwide to lead in the creation of National Economics Standards for high school economic instruction. To this day, the work of the FTE is thriving with program attendance at record highs.
I served at will under Jerry Hume’s leadership for over twenty-five years. Never was there an unreasoned request or demand. His guidance to all the staff was superb. He will be sorely missed, but his impact has been so extraordinary, his objectives for the FTE will carry on.
Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of California, Davis
And President Emeritus, Foundation for Teaching Economics