David B. Frohnmayer

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David B. Frohnmayer
David B. Frohnmayer.jpg
12th Attorney General of Oregon
In office
January 5, 1981 – December 31, 1991
Governor Victor Atiyeh
Neil Goldschmidt
Barbara Roberts
Preceded by James M. Brown
Succeeded by Charles Crookham
President of the University of Oregon
In office
July 1, 1994 – June 30, 2009
Preceded by Myles Brand
Succeeded by Richard W. Lariviere
Personal details
Born July 9, 1940
Medford, Oregon, U.S.
Died March 10, 2015(2015-03-10) (aged 74)[1]
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Attorney

David B. "Dave" Frohnmayer (July 9, 1940 – March 10, 2015)[1] was an American attorney, politician, and university administrator from Oregon. He was the 15th president of the University of Oregon (UO), serving from 1994 to 2009. His tenure as president was the second-longest after John Wesley Johnson. He was the first native Oregonian to run the UO. Frohnmayer previously served as Oregon Attorney General from 1981 to 1991, and subsequently served as dean at the University of Oregon School of Law before serving as president of the university. He served in an "of counsel" attorney role with the Oregon law firm, Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C.

Early life and education[edit]

David Braden Frohnmayer[2] was born in Medford, Oregon. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1962. He attended Wadham College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1967.

Political career[edit]

Frohnmayer, a Republican, served three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1975 to 1981, representing southern Eugene.

Frohnmayer was elected as Oregon Attorney General in November 1980, defeating Democrat Harl H. Haas, Jr.,[3] and was sworn into office on January 5, 1981. He was re-elected in 1984 and 1988, when he was nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties. Frohnmayer served as Attorney General until his resignation on December 31, 1991, when he became Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law. As Attorney General, one of his most notable cases involved leading the prosecution of members of the Rajneesh movement (followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.) Frohnmayer prevailed in six out of the seven cases that he took to the United States Supreme Court.

Frohnmayer was the Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon in 1990. Popular Democratic incumbent–and former UC Berkeley School of Law classmate–Neil Goldschmidt withdrew after Frohnmayer's campaign manager, Donna Zajonc, said "...you've got to believe that the best family will win" at a news conference,[4] which was then reported by Jeff Mapes in The Oregonian.[5] Zajonc's statement was interpreted at the time as a threat to use Goldschmidt's collapsing marriage as a political issue.[5][6] Goldschmidt quickly withdrew from the race, an event that was considered one of the "great mysteries in Oregon politics"[4] until 2004, when Goldschmidt admitted to having a sexual relationship with a minor in the 1970s.[7] Frohnmayer subsequently lost the election to Barbara Roberts, the Democrat who was nominated after Goldschmidt's withdrawal, in a three-way race that included independent, Oregon Citizens Alliance-backed[8] candidate Al Mobley.[9]

Academic career[edit]

Frohnmayer served as Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law from January 1, 1992 until he was appointed President of the University in 1994. Frohnmayer announced his retirement as President on April 29, 2008, and was succeeded on July 31, 2009 by Richard Lariviere. Frohnmayer's tenure was widely acclaimed; The Register-Guard's editorial "Retiring from the University he Remade" opined that "Dave Frohnmayer has steered the University of Oregon through grim and changing times and he's leaving a different and stronger institution."[10] The Oregonian called Frohnmayer's presidency "one of the most remarkable higher education performances in Oregon history."[citation needed]

Family and personal life[edit]

Native Oregonians, Dave Frohnmayer and his wife Lynn raised their five children - Kirsten (deceased), Mark, Katie (deceased), Jonathan, and Amy (deceased) - in Eugene. In 1983, during Frohnmayer's first term as Oregon's Attorney General, daughters Kirsten and Katie were diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare and life-threatening recessive genetic illness. Lynn and Dave together founded the FA Family Support Group in 1985 to help share disease and treatment information with other families afflicted by the illness and in 1989 established the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund[11] to fund research that would lead to a cure. Frohnmayer was also a founding Director of the National Marrow Donor Program and served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Frohnmayer's familial upbringing was heavily influenced by his father Otto's dedication to the law and public service[12] and his mother MarAbel's love of music. His elder sister, Mira, had a distinguished career as a vocalist and music professor.[13] His brother, John, served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts under the administration of President George H.W. Bush and briefly challenged incumbent senator Gordon Smith in the 2008 election as an independent. His late brother, Philip, who resided in New Orleans, Louisiana, was professor of music at Loyola University.[14] In 2005, the University of Oregon's MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building was named in honor of his mother.[15]


On March 10,[1] 2015, Frohnmayer died of prostate cancer, aged 74.[16] "I am heartbroken at the loss of my wonderful and brilliant friend Dave Frohnmayer," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. "His deep love of Oregon is reflected in a lifetime of leadership and public service. My thoughts and prayers go out to Lynn and the Frohnmayer family at this difficult time."[17]

Further reading[edit]

  • "UO's Frohnmayer bows out", The Oregonian, April 30, 2008, by Bill Graves and Janie Har.
  • "Frohnmayer: UO report card", The Oregonian, April 30, 2008, by Betsy Hammond and Jeff Smith.
  • [AP] "Frohnmayer to retire from University of Oregon", The Oregonian, April 29, 2008, by Julia Silverman.
  • [Opinion] "Frohnmayer serves University of Oregon well", Statesman Journal, April 30, 2008.
  • "UO's Frohnmayer to retire in 2009", The Register-Guard; by Greg Bolt; April 30, 2008.


  1. ^ a b c David Braden Frohnmayer Obituary
  2. ^ David Frohnmayer
  3. ^ Whitney, David (November 5, 1980). "Frohnmayer Clobbers Haas". The Oregonian. p. E1. 
  4. ^ a b “The 30-Year Secret”. Willamette Week, May 12, 2004.
  5. ^ a b Mapes, Jeff; Jim Long; Alan Ota; Steve Duin (February 14, 1990). "Goldschmidt rumors frustrated his aides". The Oregonian. 
  6. ^ Sullivan, Julie; Harry Esteve; Gail Kinsey Hill (June 27, 2004). "Two-edged alliance". The Oregonian. 
  7. ^ Wong, Peter (June 8, 2004). "Goldschmidt's records provide private insight". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2008. 
  8. ^ Graves, Bill; Don Hamilton (August 20, 1990). "Abortion foes name candidate". The Oregonian. 
  9. ^ Hortsch, Dan (April 14, 1992). "GOP on crusade for majority-rule ballot". The Oregonian. 
  10. ^ "Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA". registerguard.com. 
  11. ^ "Treatments - Fanconi Anemia Research Fund". fanconi.org. 
  12. ^ http://sohistory.org/content/frohnmayer-otto-1905-1997
  13. ^ "Mira Frohnmayer, 2011 Distinguished Alumna - UO School of Music and Dance". uoregon.edu. 
  14. ^ Waddington, Chris (September 27, 2013). "Philip Frohnmayer, singer, teacher and coach to top opera stars, dies at 66". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  15. ^ Inside Oregon - For the University of Oregon Community
  16. ^ "Dave Frohnmayer dies at 74; political and academic leader in Oregon". Los Angeles Times. March 13, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Dave Frohnmayer, former UO president and Oregon attorney general, dies at 74". OregonLive.com. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James M. Brown
Oregon Attorney General
Succeeded by
Charles Crookham
Academic offices
Preceded by
Myles Brand
President of the University of Oregon
1994 - 2009
Succeeded by
Richard W. Lariviere
Party political offices
Preceded by
Norma Paulus
Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon
Succeeded by
Denny Smith