Back to Top
Top Nav content Site Footer
University Home

Archive Research Center

University Honors

President, Polymer Institute

Professor Emeritus



Kurt Frisch was born in Vienna, Austria in 1918. He studied at the University of Vienna from 1935 to 1938 where he received his doktorandum (the equivalent of a master’s degree) in chemistry. In 1938 and 1939 he attended the University of Brussels. He moved to the United States in 1939 and attended Columbia University as a Hopkinson Research Fellow, receiving an M. A. in 1941 followed by a doctorate in 1944, both in organic chemistry. Dr. Frisch also attended Pennsylvania State University where he took management courses in 1954 and Harvard where he did graduate work at the business school in 1965.


From 1942 to 1952, Dr. Frisch worked as a research chemist at General Electric. He then moved to E. F. Houghton and Company where he served as assistant manager of research for the next four years. In 1956 he joined Wyandotte Chemical Corporation and held positions as manager of polymer research, director of applications research, and director of polymer research and development until 1968.


Dr. Frisch first came to the University of Detroit as an adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1965 to 1968. In 1968, he joined the university full time as a full professor and founded the Polymer Institute as part of the School of Engineering. The Institute was begun to provide research and development in polymers to industry, government, and professional organizations. In addition, the Polymer Institute provided students special opportunities for research and financial support in the areas of chemistry and chemical engineering. By 1990, Dr. Frisch was president and director of research of the Polymer Institute, renamed Polymer Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of the University of Detroit.

Over the years the Polymer Institute conducted research for various United States government agencies –including the U. S. military— as well as dozens of chemical and industrial firms –including Dow Chemical, IBM, Atlantic Richfield, BASF, and many more.


In the course of his career, Dr. Frisch authored or co-authored over 280 papers and articles as well as some forty books. He also contributed chapters to over twenty other volumes. In addition, between 1953 and 1999, Dr. Frisch received over 65 patents.


Dr. Frisch’s expertise in polymers attracted a broad international demand for his appearance at various business and scientific conferences as well as speaking engagements at many universities. He traveled and lectured throughout the Americas, Asia, and Europe, including the Soviet Union.

The many honors Dr. Frisch received include the IR-100 Award, 1975; FSK Medal of Merit, West Germany, 1981; Medal of Merit, British Rubber and Plastic Association, 1982; Inductee, SPI Polyurethane Hall of Fame, San Antonio, 1984; Outstanding Achievement in Plastics Education, Society of Plastics Engineers, 1986; Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Detroit, 1989; Michigan Scientist of the Year, Impressions 5 Science Center, 1995; Gold Award, Engineering Society of Detroit, 1998; and the Colwyn Medal from the Institute of Materials, London, 1999.


The honorary societies of which Dr. Frisch was a member include Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Tau Beta Pi, Omega Chi Epsilon, and the Research Society of America.   His memberships in professional societies included the American Chemical Society; European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Humanities; American Institute of Chemists; Society of Plastics Industry; Society of Plastics Engineers; and over fifteen others.


Dr. Frisch retired from University of Detroit Mercy in 2000. He was named Professor Emeritus by President Maureen Fay, O. P., Ph.D. effective May 16, 2000.

University of Detroit Mercy

Back to Top