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Kenneth C. Frazier

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Information about Kenneth C. Frazier

Profile image of Kenneth C. Frazier

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Pharmaceutical Executive
Lawyer
Corporate General Counsel

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pizza
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
You Can Be Anything You Want To Be.

Birthplace

Born:
12/17/1954
Birth Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Pharmaceutical Executive
Lawyer
Corporate General Counsel

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pizza
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
You Can Be Anything You Want To Be.

Birthplace

Born:
12/17/1954
Birth Location:
Philadelphia
See how Kenneth C. Frazier is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Pharmaceutical executive, lawyer, and corporate general counsel Kenneth C. Frazier was born on December 17, 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to janitor and former sharecropper Otis Tindley Frazier and homemaker Clara Elizabeth Frazier. The second of three children, Frazier grew up in the deeply impoverished neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Frazier’s parents strongly encouraged education and hard work, ensuring that each of their children knew what it took to succeed. In 1966, when Frazier was twelve, his mother passed away, leaving Otis Frazier to raise three children alone. Frazier graduated from Northeast High School in Philadelphia before attending Pennsylvania State University. Upon completing his B.A. degree in 1975 with highest honors, Frazier enrolled at Harvard Law School, receiving his J.D. degree in 1978.

For the next fourteen years, Frazier worked as a lawyer and, eventually, partner at the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker, Biddle, & Reath. There he represented many corporate clients, including AlliedSignal and Merck & Co., Inc. However, the case which brought Frazier the most praise during this time was the pro bono work he contributed to freeing the innocent Willie “Bo” Cochran after twenty-one years on death row. Frazier accepted a position at Merck & Co., Inc in 1992. Frazier has served in various capacities at Merck, including general counsel, secretary, and vice president. During his tenure as general counsel, Frazier achieved great success in leading the company through more than 5,000 lawsuits regarding the alleged harmful effects of Vioxx.

In 2007, Frazier accepted the role of president of Merck & Co., Inc, and was given the additional roles of CEO and chairman in 2011, making him the first African American to serve as CEO of a major pharmaceutical company. Frazier has served on the boards of several organizations, such as Exxon Mobil, Penn State University, and Cornerstone Christian Academy, a private charter school serving at-risk youth in Philadelphia, which he also co-founded. Due to his professional success and his position on the board of trustees, Frazier was selected to lead the investigation of the allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and university officials. Frazier has received numerous awards, including the 2001 Penn State Alumni Fellow Award, the Association of Corporate Counsel’s 2004 Excellence in Corporate Practice Award, and the Equal Justice Initiative’s 2009 Equal Justice Champion award.

Frazier lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Andréa, and their son, James. Their daughter, Lauren, is an engineer.

Frazier was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 2, 2012.

See how Kenneth C. Frazier is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth C. Frazier's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth C. Frazier lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth C. Frazier lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes his household growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers an influential teacher
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his mother's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kenneth C. Frazier recalls the role of his maternal aunts after his mother's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his early understanding of race
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers North East High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his influences at Nort East High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth C. Frazier recalls his admission to Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers entering college at sixteen years old
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth C. Frazier recalls his decision to study political science and history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes the racial discrimination at Pennsylvania State University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his graduation from Pennsylvania State University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his social life at the Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kenneth C. Frazier recalls his accomplishments at the Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his club football team at the Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about the school busing crisis in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his mentors at the Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his first legal case
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers the case of Cochran v. Herring
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about African Americans in the law profession
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers being one of two black partners at Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his role as general counsel for a joint pharmaceutical venture
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kenneth C. Frazier recalls his promotion to vice president of public affairs at Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers his promotion to general counsel of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about the recall of Vioxx by Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth C. Frazier explains his strategy as general counsel of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his perserverance during the Vioxx trial
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers becoming the CEO of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his accomplishments at Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenneth C. Frazier remembers being named CEO of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his performance as the CEO of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his role as the CEO of Merck and Co., Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes his involvement at Pennsylvania State University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth C. Frazier talks about his interest in education
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth C. Frazier reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kenneth C. Frazier describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kenneth C. Frazier shares a message to future generations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Kenneth C. Frazier narrates his photographs