Merck & Co., Inc. Chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier will be speaking at Drexel’s 2019 commencement ceremony at Citizens Bank Park June 14. Frazier is the first African American to lead a major biopharmaceutical company and one of the few African American CEOs on the “Fortune 500” list.
“I’m certain our graduating class will enjoy hearing from a highly successful corporate executive whose career in business, law and public service roles has given him a unique perspective, and whose personal journey stretches from North Philadelphia to Harvard Law to the corporate boardroom,” Drexel President John A. Fry said in a DrexelNow announcement.
Frazier is a native of Philadelphia and attended schools in the area before graduating at the young age of 16. He then went on to earn his B.A. degree from Penn State and eventually earned his J.D. from Harvard University at the age of 24.
Frazier was a partner at the Philadelphia law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath before joining Merck in 1992 as a lawyer. He held positions in general counsel before becoming president and eventually CEO. Frazier has focused his efforts on increasing Merck’s investment in research, launching products that benefit society, and on philanthropic endeavors.
Frazier made headlines in 2017 for resigning from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, following the protest march by white nationalist, “alt-Right” and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, in early August 2017.
Aside from his role as CEO of Merck, Frazier is also on the boards of PhRMA, Weill Cornell Medicine, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, The Business Council, the Council of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association.