April 23, 2001
Billy Frye to retire (for good) in May
By Michael Terrazas email@example.com
Chancellor Billy Frye has decided it is both his choice and his responsibility to conclude his distinguished career in academia and administrationincluding 15 years at Emoryby retiring at the end of May.
Since coming to Emory in 1986 as vice president of research and dean
of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Frye has also served as the
Universitys first provost and its interim president.
After Bill Chace assumed the presidency in 1994, Frye returned to the
provosts office for three years before becoming Emorys fourth
chancellor in 1997.
Its all part of my rather vague, evolving retirement plan,
quipped Frye, who said he came to Emory intending to serve five years
as graduate school dean before retiring. After former President James
Laney departed, Frye took on the interim presidency and then continued
as provost to help Chace become acclimated to the University.
When I insisted to Dr. Chace that I was going to retire [in 1997],
he and his colleagues came up with the notion that I could continue on
as chancellorI had not expected that, Frye said of the post,
which has been only periodically occupied during Emorys history.
As chancellor, Frye participated in a number of projects related to information
technology, including his co-chairmanship (along with college Dean Steve
Sanderson) of the Council on Information Resources and Technology. This
year, he has served as one of four co-chairs of the Universitys
Year of Reconciliation.
It was an extraordinary privilege and honor, and I have enjoyed
it tremendously, Frye said of his term as chancellor. He thanked
Chace and the Board of Trustees, along with the late Joe Crooks, former
general counsel for the University, for offering him the position.
Emory owes much, as I do personally, to this brilliant scholar,
gifted administrator and good friend, Chace said. My colleagues
and I wish him all the best as he brings to a close his remarkable career
at this university.
Born in Clarkesville, Ga., near the North Carolina border, Frye earned
his bachelors from Piedmont College in nearby Demorest before coming
to Emory for graduate school, receiving one of the biology departments
first doctorates. He joined the faculty at the University of Virginia,
then began a 25-year career at the University of Michigan, where he arrived
as an assistant professor of zoology and departed as vice president for
academic affairs and the schools first provost.
That makes two major American research universities in which Frye originated the role of provost.
However, always one to shun the spotlight, he downplayed the significance
of this. More than anything, that term has just come into usage
in universities across the country in the last 25 years or so as a translation
of the term academic vice president, Frye said. In
terms of real, functional lineage, I dont look at it [as anything
Asked which of his Emory accomplishments he holds most dear, Frye cited
his work with faculty, staff and students in the campuswide exploration
that led to the 1996 publication of Choices & Responsibility,
a seminal document for Emory that serves as a set of philosophical, guiding
principles for the Universitys future.
Its the facultys legacy, Frye said, dismissing
the idea that the mark C&R left on the University culture is
owed to him. Whatever durability its got is because there
was an enormous level of participation by faculty. It was probably as
nearly universal as anything I had ever seen in a University context or
can imagine achieving. Its not my legacyits oursbut
I am proud of it.
As for his future plans, Frye said he will retire to Clarkesville with his wife, Elisa Ann. Im learning to chew tobacco and sit on the front porch, he said. Ill garden, maybe fish and grow orchids, just putter around that way.