For immediate release May 18, 2016

Frederick M. Lawrence Named 10th Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of The Phi Beta Kappa Society

WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society, is pleased to announce the selection of Frederick M. Lawrence as the Society’s 10th Secretary and Chief Executive Officer. Lawrence will assume the post on August 1, 2016.

When announcing the appointment, Phi Beta Kappa President Catherine White Berheide said that Lawrence “is the visionary and accomplished leader who will continue to advance the Society’s ambitious agenda to advocate for the value of an arts and sciences education. He has demonstrated a deep commitment to the arts and sciences, understands the value of liberal education, and is already participating in national conversations about its future.”

Lawrence succeeds Secretary John Churchill, who is retiring after 14 years in the post.  Secretary Churchill, a well-known thought leader in liberal arts and sciences education, has skillfully guided the Society into a new era of advocacy on behalf of the value of a liberal arts and sciences education. During his tenure as Secretary, Phi Beta Kappa added chapters at 24 colleges and universities, bringing the total to 286, and launched the Society’s National Arts & Sciences Initiative.

A Phi Beta Kappa member inducted at Williams College and a Yale Law school graduate, Lawrence has spent much of his career at institutions committed to providing a foundational arts and sciences experience for their students. His body of work also reflects a lifetime of advocating for the arts and sciences, civil liberties and human rights, both nationally and internationally.

Prior to his current position as Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School, he served as President and Professor of Politics at Brandeis University. While there he ensured the future of the Rose Art Museum, a premier university-based museum of contemporary art; raised over $250 million in support of a wide range of programs, including financial aid; and oversaw a dramatic increase in the number of applications which reached an all-time high during his administration. 

Lawrence previously served as Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor at the George Washington University Law School and on the faculty of the Boston University School of Law, where he received Boston University’s Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has written extensively, lectured internationally, and testified before Congress on bias crimes and freedom of expression. He is the author of “Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law,” published by Harvard University Press.

Lawrence frequently contributes op-eds to various news sources, such as the Boston Globe, MSNBC Online, and Huffington Post. Prior to his academic career, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and as Chief of that office's Civil Rights Unit. 

With regard to his appointment, Lawrence said, "I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve as Secretary. Phi Beta Kappa not only recognizes intellectual rigor and academic excellence, it also advocates for and embodies the values of the liberal arts and sciences, and its core tenets of free expression and academic freedom. 

“These values have shaped me personally and professionally. I believe they are more relevant than ever today. They are at the very heart of our democracy and essential for its continued success. I look forward to furthering the Society’s mission, speaking about the importance of the arts and sciences, and helping the next generation of diverse thinkers and problem solvers embrace learning for all of life.”


About The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Founded on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 286 colleges and universities in the United States, almost 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 130 Nobel Laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit