Frazier retires, Merck board elects new chairman

Oct. 28, 2022

After a 30-year tenure at Merck (MSD), Kenneth C. Frazier has announced his retirement. The company's board of directors has unanimously elected Robert M. Davis to serve as its new chairman of the board.

Davis, who currently serves as president and CEO, became Merck’s president in April 2021 and was named Merck’s CEO and a member of its board in July 2021.

Frazier, who plans to retire on Nov. 30, 2022, led the company for 10 years as president and CEO, from 2011 through 2021. He has served as a Merck director since January 2011 and chairman of its board of directors since December 2011.

Known for being approachable and straightforward, Frazier was an outspoken champion of equality and social justice. In 2017, Frazier was the first pharma exec to resign from President Trump's American Manufacturing Council, following Trump's initially weak response to violence at the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, setting off a wave of defections. Frazier has frequently called upon business leaders to be a “unifying force” to help solve many of the racial inequalities in America by creating new opportunities and jobs.

Frazier is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Anti-Defamation League Courage Against Hate Award, the Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics from Columbia Business School, the Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale School of Management, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund National Equal Justice Award, and the National Minority Quality Forum’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2018, he was named one the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine, and was twice named to TIME’s list of the most influential people in the world.