Tribute: Billy E. Frye 54G 56PhD

Billy E. Frye 54G 56PhD, who served as Emory’s first provost and later as interim president and then chancellor, died at eighty on November 14, 2017, near Clarkesville, Georgia.

During his fifteen-year tenure at Emory, Frye was recognized as a steady, influential leader who showed integrity, intelligence, and deep moral stamina, with a gift of bringing humor to the most challenging deliberations. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Piedmont College before coming to Emory, where he received one of the graduate school’s first doctoral degrees.

Frye returned to Emory in 1986 as dean of the graduate school and vice president for research, and in 1988 was named Emory’s first provost and vice president for academic affairs.

His arrival at Emory coincided with Emory’s unprecedented growth and expansion due to the then-record gift of $105 million from Coca-Cola executive Robert W. Woodruff and his brother, George Woodruff. During that time, Frye was credited with imparting a stabilizing sense of order and consensus. He was also influential in leading a campuswide self-examination that led to the 1996 publication of Choices & Responsibility: Shaping Emory’s Future, a seminal document that outlined guiding principles for the university’s future.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Frye was a national spokesperson and leader in preparing research libraries for the future by bringing attention to issues such as book preservation and digitization and the need for collaboration among research libraries.

Frye received Emory’s Thomas Jefferson Award in 1997 for service to Emory through activities, influence, and leadership. He was awarded the Emory Medal, the highest alumni honor, and recognized as one of 175 Makers of History in 2011.

Frye is survived by his wife, Elisa Ann Frye; two daughters, Alice Frye 01PhD and Elisa Talitha Frye; son-in-law Joshua Peck; granddaughter Chana Perlman; and his brother, Jack Frye.

Email the Editor

Share This Story