Issue Date: September 14, 2009
George K. Fraenkel
George K. Fraenkel, 87, a professor of chemistry emeritus and a former dean at Columbia University, died on June 10.
Born in Deal, N.J., Fraenkel attended Harvard College and received a B.A. in 1942. His graduate studies at Harvard were interrupted when he was called to work on a National Defense Research Committee project to measure the explosive power of bombs. In 1946, Fraenkel returned to graduate school at Cornell University, where he completed a Ph.D. in 1949.
Fraenkel then joined Columbia's chemistry department and became its chair in 1965. He served as dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Arts & Sciences from 1968 until 1983 and as vice president for special projects from 1983 to 1986. He retired from the chemistry department in 1991.
At Columbia, Fraenkel developed high-sensitivity, high-resolution equipment to study electron-spin (paramagnetic) resonance, which has been important in understanding fundamental chemistry and many biological systems.
Fraenkel was president of the Association of Graduate Schools of the Association of American Universities in 1980. He was awarded the Harold C. Urey Award of the Gamma Chapter of Phi Lambda Upsilon in 1972, and was elected to the Title of Officer dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques in 1981. At the time of his death, he also served as director and treasurer of the Atran Foundation, in New York City. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1946.
He is survived by his wife of 19 years, Eva; six stepchildren; and one step-granddaughter.
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