Charles J. Hitch

January 9, 1910 – September 11, 1995

Brief Biography

Hitch Presidential Gallery Photo

Born in Boonville, Missouri, Charles Johnston Hitch was the eighth president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) in 1959. He is best remembered for his vital work as Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961-65). Hitch enhanced the employment of defense operations research, using it to support strategic thinking at the high levels of decision making.

Educated at the University of Arizona and Harvard, Hitch studied economics before being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford. He was the first Rhodes Scholar to be elected a don at Queen’s College, Oxford and held the position for thirteen years. At the time, his primary research focus was price theory. In 1939, he and Robert Hall coauthored a paper on the subject that defied conventional academic wisdom. Their research involved going out to the professional landscape and asking businessmen how they set their prices. In the process, Hitch learned that most executives had little to no knowledge of marginal revenue or marginal cost.  

Hitch interrupted his Oxford career to serve as staff economist on W. Averell Harriman’s lend-lease mission to London prior to World War II. His experience in the United Kingdom made him a valuable asset in tying together US-UK relations. Hitch later worked with the War Production Board in Washington and the Office of Strategic Services. After the war, he continued to develop economic policy for the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion before returning to academia at Oxford full-time. Upon his discharge from the Army, Hitch had achieved the rank of first lieutenant.

As post-war activities calmed down, Hitch left Oxford to establish the RAND Corporation's Economics Division. He headed that department for thirteen years and developed systematic interdisciplinary policy research. The Division included the Logistics Department for the development of advanced techniques of quantitative supply and maintenance analysis; the Cost Analysis Department; and the Economics Department that developed and applied cost-benefit analysis to public, national defense programs. Hitch created an atmosphere in which research questions were considered by experts in various disciplines, broken down and properly evaluated. Hitch produced a number of comprehensive studies at RAND, many of which appear in his report, Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age (1960). In his work, there is always a distinct clarity of expression, making difficult subjects tangible to the reader.

Hitch left RAND to become the Assistant Secretary of Defense under JFK. At the Department of Defense, he was directed by Secretary Robert McNamara to produce a long-term budget. The resulting product eventually became DOD's Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS). Hitch’s work involved the application of operations research to Defense was summarized in his book Decision Making for Defense (1966).

Hitch left the Pentagon to manage the University of California at Berkeley's financial affairs. He was soon after selected to replace the sitting president of the university and held that position from 1968 until 1975. The years of Hitch’s presidency were not tranquil, as social movements and in-state education reform upset the student populace. Hitch left Cal to head Resources of the Future, a Washington-based research organization, and published Modelling Energy-Economy Interactions (1977), a seminal work on strategies for dealing with critical energy shortages. 

Other Biographies

Wikipedia Entry for Charles J. Hitch

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Charles J. Hitch. Accessed March 6, 2015. (link)

University of California History Digital Archives. Presidents: Charles Johnston Hitch, 1967-1975. Accessed March 6, 2015. (link)


University of Arizona, BA 1931

Oxford University, MS 1935

Harvard University, PhD 1935


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

RAND History Project Interviews. Accession No. 1999-0037, Box 3. Audio. Cassette Tape. National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division. National Air and Space Museum. Smithsonian Institute: Washington D.C. (link)


Enthoven A. C. (1995) Tribute to Charles J. Hitch. OR/MS Today, 22(6). (link)

New York Times (1995) Charles Hitch, 85, Dies; Led Turbulent U. of California. September 12. (link)

SFGate (1995) Former head of UC Charles J. Hitch. September 12. (link)

Awards and Honors

George E. Kimball Medal 1979

Jacinto Steinhardt Prize 1987

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), President 1959

Selected Publications

Hall R. L. & Hitch C. J. (1939) Price Theory and Business Behavior. Oxford Economic Papers, 2: 12-45.

Hitch C. J. (1949) Planning Defense Production. RAND Corporation: Santa Monica, CA.

Hitch C. J. (1953) Sub-Optimization in Operations Problems. Journal of the Operations Research Society of America, 1(3): 87-99.

Hitch C. J. (1958) Economics and Military Operations Research. RAND Corporation: Santa Monica, CA.

Hitch C. J. (1960) Uncertainties in Operations Research. Operations Research, 8(4): 437-445.

Hitch C. J. & McKean R. N. (1960) The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age. RAND Corporation: Santa Monica, CA.

Hitch C. J. (1962) The New Approach to Management in the U.S. Defense Department. Management Science, 9(1): 1-8.

Hitch C. J. (1966) Decision-Making for Defense. University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.

Hitch C. J. (1977) Modeling Energy-Economy Interactions: Five Approaches. Resources for the Future: Washington, DC.

Hitch C. J. (1996) Management Problems of Large Organizations. Operations Research, 44(2): 257-264.

Additional Resources

RAND Publications List: Charles Johnston Hitch