Meet Phi Beta Kappa’s New Secretary

By Krysta M. Larson

On August 1, Frederick M. Lawrence began his position as the 10th Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of The Phi Beta Kappa Society. Lawrence was inducted into the Society during his junior year at Williams College and later graduated from Yale Law School, where he now serves as Visiting Professor of Law and Senior Research Scholar in Law. 

A renowned lawyer, scholar, teacher, and activist, Lawrence has spent much of his career advocating for the arts and sciences, free expression, and civil rights. He is a leading advocate of strong bias crime legislation and has written about the subject in numerous journals and in his book Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law (Harvard University Press, 1999).  

Lawrence launched his legal career in 1980 as clerk to Judge Amalya Lyle Kearse of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He later served as Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and became Chief of the Civil Rights Unit.  

In 1988, Lawrence joined the Boston University School of Law where he taught courses on civil rights enforcement, criminal law, and civil procedure. He became the school’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and held this position from 1996 to 1999. Lawrence received the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996, the highest teaching honor at Boston University. 

In 2005, Lawrence was appointed as Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, remaining in this position until 2010. Some of his major accomplishments as dean include recruiting the strongest classes in the school’s history, generating five of the most effective years of fundraising for the school, founding its India Studies initiative, and adding new exchange programs in Italy and the Netherlands.  

Lawrence was appointed as Brandeis University’s president in 2011 and served in this position until 2015. In his capacity as president, Lawrence helped to increase the number of applicants to the school by more than 35% and strengthened the university’s commitment to financial aid in an effort to make higher education more affordable. He is also noted for his achievement in securing the future of the Rose Art Museum, which contains about 6,000 works of art from Brandeis’ collection and offers both temporary exhibits and works from artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol.  

Throughout his career, Lawrence has served on a number of boards and has been a trustee for organizations that are devoted to the pursuit of free expression, civil rights, and higher education. He currently serves on the board of Beyond Conflict, an organization that seeks to promote peace and reconciliation by connecting, inspiring, and empowering diverse communities and leaders. Lawrence has served on the National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League since 2002 and chaired the National Legal Affairs Committee of the Anti-Defamation League from 2003 to 2006. He has also served as a trustee for his alma mater, Williams College, and was part of the board of directors for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.

Krysta M. Larson is a senior at Creighton University majoring in English and journalism. She is a recently inducted member of Phi Beta Kappa. Creighton is home to the Beta of Nebraska Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.