Volume 77
Number 3

Turning Point

12 Hours on Unit 21

Outreach in Action

War of the Winds

A Sense of Place

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates





















































“Our central aim is to make Emory one of the best
universities in the nation and in the world.”

SO BEGINS A Vision for Emory, the second of two seminal documents by Chancellor Billy E. Frye ’54G-’56PhD that illuminate a set of guiding principles for the University’s future. The fruit of many hours spent in conversation with faculty and members of the Emory community, A Vision for Emory outlines ten proposed transitions and emerging trends that, Frye concluded, “will result in a great and dynamic university that is building on its roots to produce an excellent institution that is at once powerful in its intelligence, moral in its sensibilities, global in its perspective, and distinctive in its cast.”

In all Frye’s fifteen years at Emory, no one ever accused him of setting his sights too low. From the day he arrived at the University in 1986 to become dean of the graduate school and vice president of research, Frye was unswerving in his pursuit of excellence, raising the bar ever higher in his quest to see Emory gain sure footing among the nation’s topmost institutions. As the University’s first provost from 1988 to 1997, its interim president in 1993, and then its fourth chancellor, Frye influenced nearly every facet of University life through “his appeal, made in countless ways, that the University and its faculty live up to the highest standards of scholarship, devotion to teaching, and community service,” says President William M. Chace.

Last spring, Frye announced his retirement. He will be spending most of his time on his farm in the north Georgia mountains, where he will turn his attention to simpler pleasures: “Growing orchids, gardening, reading, and eventually some fishing, I suppose,” he says. Frye leaves a legacy that will almost certainly continue to guide Emory’s growth for generations to come, clearly expressed in what he considers his proudest achievements, A Vision for Emory and its 1994 companion piece, Choices and Responsibility: Shaping Emory’s Future.

Frye’s highest priorities for Emory included balancing quality teaching with cutting-edge research, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, maintaining a sense of community in the face of rapid physical expansion, and enriching the University’s ties to the surrounding world. Working closely with faculty and administrators, he led myriad efforts to further these goals and set initiatives in motion that would ensure their long-term progress.

Choices and Responsibility merely articulated the goals that most folks would see as essential for any major university worth its salt,” Frye says. “But it interjected into the conversation the importance of consideration of balance among these activities, consideration of the needs and the potential of the University as a whole, and, of course, the importance of being faithful to our values as we pursue greater recognition from within the profession and the general public.”

As Emory’s growth skyrocketed in the early 1990s, particularly in the areas of medical research and the health sciences, Frye strove to help the University maintain a balanced identity. Over the course of almost ten years as provost–the University’s chief academic officer–he was a tireless champion of the arts and sciences at Emory and a catalyst for the formation of the highly successful Graduate Division of Biomedical and Biological Sciences. George Jones, Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology, was dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences during much of Frye’s tenure as provost, and had previously worked with Frye at the University of Michigan.

“The growth and development of the graduate school as a real player in the intellectual life of the community was something Billy started as dean in 1986,” Jones says, “He continued to play a critical role when I was dean of the graduate school.”

The impact of Frye’s vision has reached far beyond the University campus, Jones says.

Choices and Responsibility was a document that not only challenged us to think deeply about Emory, but challenged a lot of people at universities across the country to think deeply about the nature of American universities in the twenty-first century,” Jones says. “Many leaders used it to help crystallize their own thinking about their own institutions. It really played a role in helping to shape educational institutions around the country.”

Frye intended to retire in 1997, when President Chace unexpectedly offered him the title of chancellor, a post that has been sporadically occupied during Emory’s history. In this position, he co-chaired the Council on Information Resources and Technology, and served as one of four co-chairs of the University’s Year of Reconciliation.

Despite his relentless drive for superlative quality and standards, Frye was also recognized for his “patience, his thoroughgoing integrity, and his sense of humor amid everything,” says Chace.

“He brought a civility to the performance of his duties that I think was critical in helping to develop the kind of collegial environment that now exists in the structure and hierarchy at Emory,” Jones says. “There were battles to be fought, but he did so in a way that allowed them to be fought without any lingering animosity. As difficult as these were, they were much less so than they would have been had his character and personality been different.

”It is a tribute to Billy that I have spoken to a number of people across the country who know of him,” Jones says. “They have said that when they think of the model for a provost at an American university, they think of Billy Frye.” –P.P.P.





© 2001 Emory University