Dr. Ernest S. Frerichs

Inducted: 2008

Ernest S. Frerichs is a man of three careers and a graduate of three New England universities: Brown, Harvard, and Boston. Born in Staten Island and educated in the public schools of New York City, Dr. Frerichs served with the U.S. Army in Europe during WW II. His careers have included that of clergyman at Providence’s Mathewson Street United Methodist Church from 1950 to 1960, as a professor and dean at Brown from 1953 to 1995, and as the executive director and president of the Dorot Foundation from 1995 to the present.

In his academic career, Ernest was a founding member of the Brown Department of
Religious Studies–the first such department in the United States. He was also the co-director and director of Brown’s Judaic Studies Program (1982-1995) and dean of Brown’s graduate school (1976-1982).

As a student, Frerichs began in the field of political science, but, after becoming interested in the role played by Near-Eastern law in shaping the American legal tradition, he turned his attention to Judaic studies. His return to Brown–his undergraduate alma mater–coincided with the university’s interest in developing a religious studies program.

As dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Frerichs oversaw Brown’s masters program and thirty doctoral programs. His lengthy resume includes numerous articles in professional journals, twenty-nine edited or co-edited books, presentations at national and international conferences, significant roles on dozens of scholarly committees and professional organizations, plus such community service as trustee of Roger Williams General Hospital from 1982 until 1997.

Dr. Frerichs also developed a long association with the American Schools of Oriental Research in Israel and took part in the fourteen-year-long archaeological excavation of Tel Miqne-Ekron, an ancient center in the olive oil trade. Serving as administrative director, he oversaw the work of more than 1500 American students.

In recent years, following retirement from Brown, Dr. Frerichs has been the executive director and president of the Dorot Foundation, a Providence-based agency associated with research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dorot supports professorships at Brown and fellowships throughout the United States, and assists students who seek summer experiences and study in Israel.

Ernest’s wife of fifty-nine years was the late Dr. Sarah (Cutts) Frerichs a college professor of English and Literature. Dr. Frerichs is in the process of moving from Providence to Warren to reside with his son David, a Warren town councilman, and his daughter-in-law Barbara.

Scroll to Top