On May 9 the Drexel University board of trustees extended President John A. Fry’s contract until 2023.
“I’d like to thank the trustees who elected me to serve for another five years here at Drexel. It is important to have a constant leadership, during challenging times. I believe Drexel has met these challenges and am thrilled to continue serving this community,” President Fry said.
After being appointed Drexel’s 14th president in 2010, Fry initiated a series of new events and plans to increase university connections and partnerships.
From overseeing the formation of the AJ Drexel Autism Institute to forming a relationship and partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences, President Fry has had an impact Drexel’s outreach and community engagement.
President Fry, after having his contract extended in 2015, worked to reshape Drexel’s enrollment and retention strategies with increased financial aid and academic support. The overall goal is to increase the retention and graduation rates.
During Fry’s tenure thus far Drexel improved its position in rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education.
Over the past few years Drexel has also received two major donations of $50 million from Thomas R. Kline and $45 million from Dana and David Dornsife, for the Kline School of Law and Dornsife School of Public Health, respectively. In keeping with President Fry’s aim of promoting innovation and inclusion, Drexel has gained attention as an innovative institution with its part in the creation of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America institute, which serves as a national manufacturing resource for “smart fabrics.”
More recently, Drexel’s initiatives have been focused on the Schuylkill Yards plan. The $3.5 billion mixed-use project of 14 acres of academic, commercial, residential, retail and open space was announced in 2016.
“President Fry has implemented a dynamic vision for how an urban university can attract and inspire excellent students, conduct path breaking research, bolster the surrounding neighborhood, partner with others and serve as an anchor institution in the region,” Richard A. Greenawalt, chairman of the board of trustees, said in the DrexelNow announcement of the contract extension.
Fry is also in his second year as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. In that role he drew criticism from some students for testifying in a lawsuit against a Philadelphia equal pay law.
In the past years, Drexel has also increased its support for the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. Involved parts of the university include the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.
The university has also announced it will be enrolling its most academically talented class of incoming freshmen this fall, having received deposits from a record-breaking number of students for the second year in a row. Fry will have to deal with the challenge to housing and study space these new students pose.
Following the extension, President Fry will be focusing his efforts on Drexel’s most ambitious fundraising effort ever, a $750 million campaign, announced in November to catalyze a new era at Drexel.