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Drexel University to name John A. Fry (SFP '78) President

Thursday, March 11, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michael Graziano
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Drexel University to name John A. Fry (SFP '78) President
By Susan Snyder, Inquirer Staff Writer

Drexel University trustees today are planning to name John A. Fry - president of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster and a former University of Pennsylvania executive - the school's new president, sources said.

Trustees have called a special meeting for 11 a.m., and staff members and other key university officials have been invited to a 4:30 p.m. reception to meet the new president and his family. Fry was on campus this week, sources said.

Fry, 49, has been at Franklin and Marshall for nearly eight years, a tenure marked by growth, construction, and improved finances.

Fry defies the traditional college president model: He does not have a doctoral degree, has never been a dean or provost, and has not taught or conducted research. But he has spent his career in higher education, including an 11-year turn as a consultant to colleges and universities, helping them with organization and finances.

He also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the University of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2002 under president Judith Rodin. During that time, he had a leadership role in Penn's successful neighborhood revitalization, which could be of key interest to Drexel trustees as they look north of their Market Street location in University City.

At Franklin and Marshall, a 2,200-student liberal arts college, Fry used many of the same strategies. He recently was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education for the reclamation and planned redevelopment of an industrial site. The article was titled "The College President as Urban Planner."
"There are two speeds in Lancaster," history and American studies professor Louise L. Stevenson told the New York Times for a December 2008 article. "There is Lancaster speed. And there is Fry speed. And Fry speed is fast."

The 22,000-student Drexel University, which includes medical and business schools and a graduate campus in Sacramento, Calif., began a national search after longtime president Constantine Papadakis died in April of lung cancer.

Even at the start of the national search, Fry's name was floated as a prime candidate. He has now been selected as the choice of the 13-member search committee headed by Richard Greenawalt, a principal at RMK Associates, a private investment firm that he founded. Greenawalt is the chair of the Drexel board of trustees.

Drexel is a national research university with a $420 million-plus endowment and a $791 million operating budget. The city's seventh-largest private employer with more than 8,200 staffers, the university during Papadakis' 14 years was transformed from a struggling engineering school to a growing, vibrant institution.  The new president also will inherit Drexel's challenging $500 million capital campaign, now in its second year.

During Fry's term, Franklin and Marshall has built a new complex for the life science and philosophy departments, a coffeehouse and bookstore in the center of campus, and a writer's house and international center. Several dormitories also were converted into academic/social/living quarters, and a five-story complex with 130 apartments and retail areas was built.

Most recently, the college has torn down and cleaned up the former Armstrong World Industries facility to make way for new athletic fields and other development.

Fry has a bachelor's degree in American civilization from Lafayette College in Easton and a master's in business administration from the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Fry, an avid squash player and collector of history books about colleges and universities, is the father of three children. His oldest daughter is a freshman at Williams College.

In 2006, he was a finalist to become president of Temple University but withdrew. Ann Weaver Hart was hired.

The St. Francis Prep community congratulates John Fry and wishes him continued success in his new position.  Also, thank you to JeanneMarie Boisselle Patella '76 for sending Prep the link to this story.