At just 21 years old, Herman Frazier won gold and bronze medals in the 1976 Olympic games. Now, 45 years later, Frazier is being honored as one of The College Leaders for 2021 from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Frazier, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from ASU in 1977, first began college at Denison University. But after competing for one semester in track and field, his talent for the sport was recognized. He transferred to ASU on an athletic scholarship in 1975 and went on to compete in the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal, where he brought home a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay and an individual bronze medal in the 400-meter dash.
Upon graduating he was offered a position with Sun Devil Athletics. He remained with the university for 23 years, working in athletics administration and eventually becoming the senior associate athletic director and leading ASU to a national title in track and field.
In 2002, to celebrate and honor Frazier’s lifetime achievements, his friends and colleagues initiated the Herman R. Frazier Scholarship Endowment in the School of Politics and Global Studies to benefit undergraduate students studying political science.
“After I got my Bachelor of Science in political science, I entered graduate school at Arizona State in the public administration program. But while I was there I got hired by the university; that's when they pulled me out and selected me to become an assistant athletic director, making me in charge of events and facilities when I was only 23 years old. That was unheard of. It was an opportunity that I just could not turn down,” Frazier said.
He currently serves as the senior deputy director of athletics at Syracuse University, where he has been since 2011. Prior to working at Syracuse University, he held a number of athletic director positions at universities around the country, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Temple University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Here, he shares more about his Sun Devil story, his career and his advice for ASU students.
Question: What initially interested you about your major, and how did it help prepare you for your career?
Answer: I always wanted to be a lawyer. Even though track and field got in the way, I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree in political science. … A lot of people say I probably could have been involved in politics. I'm involved in politics every day with the job that I do. It was no different from when the job was at Arizona State or the other institutions I have worked at since Arizona State. There's no question that every day of my life I deal with politics. Even now for what I do here at Syracuse University, as the deputy director of athletics, I am also a registered lobbyist for the university. So I go to Albany and lobby different legislatures on behalf of Syracuse.
Q: What is your favorite part about your chosen career path?
A: Well, first of all, I don't look at my job as work. I was interviewing someone for a position and they asked me, how did I view my job? I get people asking me that question often. One of the things I tell them is I really don't work. My job is my hobby because when I come to work, I just have so much fun. Now having said that, there are a lot of things that I have to do on a day-to-day basis or a weekly basis or a monthly basis that are somewhat strenuous and somewhat difficult. However, that's just part of the job. I am so happy that I chose the career that I did, and I would not have it any other way.
Q: What is your biggest motivation to succeed professionally?
A: My biggest motivation has always been to impress my parents. My parents instilled education in me, and I was very fortunate to be able to be on an athletic scholarship and go to Arizona State University. As I sit here today, to be chosen for this award, I only wish my parents were alive so that they could see this and be a part of it as well. Because this is how they raised me.
Q: What advice would you give to students in The College?
A: The thing I would say to students is that you're at an age and a time in your life where there's so much going on and you should take in whatever you can as far as knowledge and education and life lessons from the university. Please take advantage of it. My three and a half years as an undergraduate were some of the best years of my life; I didn't want to leave college. I had so much fun, and every day was a blessing. … I would say to all the young people, even if you're not an athlete, enjoy The College and all the things that Arizona State University represents.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?
A: I'll be retired, and I will probably be back living in the Phoenix metropolitan area and attending ASU football games and basketball games and track meets and, who knows, maybe even walking around campus trying to provide any kind of support that young people may need. Once I hang it up here and have time on my hands, I'd be happy to assist anybody who needs any assistance.
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