John Frohnmayer

John Edward Frohnmayer (born June 1, 1942) is a retired attorney from the U.S. state of Oregon. He was the fifth chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a program of the United States government. He was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1989, and served until 1992.


Frohnmayer earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, where he sang with the Stanford Mendicants, an a cappella singing group. Later, he earned a master's degree in Christian ethics from the University of Chicago and a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review in 1972.[1] He was a decorated officer in the United States Navy, in which he served from 1966-1980. He chaired the Oregon Arts Commission from 1980–1984.[2]

President George H. W. Bush appointed Frohnmayer to chair the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989. The NEA was in the midst of controversies surrounding its funding of various projects, notably those of Robert Mapplethorpe, which would lead to Congressional action and a United States Supreme Court decision in 1998, National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley. Frohnmayer's focus on art education was largely overshadowed by the contentious partisan politics surrounding the agency.

Under pressure from the Religious Right, and Pat Buchanan in particular, Frohnmayer was asked to resign in 1992.[3]

Frohnmayer published two books in the 1990s: Leaving Town Alive, an account of his experience at the NEA, and Out of Tune: Listening to the First Amendment, a text for high school and college courses.

He is currently an Affiliate Professor of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.[4]

His brother, David B. Frohnmayer, was Oregon Attorney General and the 15th president of the University of Oregon.

2008 U.S. Senate campaign

On September 12, 2007, Frohnmayer announced that he would run for the United States Senate representing Oregon, running as a candidate of the Independent Party of Oregon.[5] for the seat formerly held by Republican Gordon Smith. He dropped out of the race on June 10, 2008, citing fundraising problems.[6] Smith lost the Senate election to Jeff Merkley, a Democrat who was cross-nominated by the Independent Party after Frohnmayer quit the race.

See also



  1. Bob Keefer (August 15, 2004). "Sculpting a legacy". The Register-Guard.
  2. Gamarekian, Barbara (1989-07-08). "Appointment To Arts Post Is Praised". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  3. "Headliners: Out of the Picture". The New York Times. February 23, 1992. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  4. "About John Frohmayer". John Frohnmayer for US Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  5. Stanchak, Jessie (September 12, 2007). "Well-Known Independent Candidate Joins Oregon Senate Race". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  6. "Frohnmayer drops out of Ore. Senate race". 2008-06-10. Retrieved 2008-06-10.

External links

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