Drexel University President John Fry to Serve as Honorary Consul of South Africa

photo of president Fry in front of book library

Drexel University President John Fry has been appointed honorary consul of South Africa for Philadelphia, a position that will charge him with strengthening the University and the city’s partnership and collaboration with the nation. As an appointee of the president of South Africa, duly approved by U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, Fry will work to further the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between the U.S. and South Africa.

“I am deeply honored to serve in this capacity to strengthen our longstanding relationship with South Africa, both as an American and a university president,” Fry said. “This is an opportunity to work with institutions in South Africa that share our commitment to sustainable development and collaboration to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. At Drexel, we are eager to continue expanding our network of global partnerships wherever our mutual values, assets and objectives can align to accomplish the greatest good.”

Fry was selected because of his extensive background in establishing multidisciplinary educational and business collaborations and the groundwork Drexel has already laid in building research partnerships throughout Africa.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for President Fry and the University, both to be of service to our nation and region, and to strengthen our partnerships and reputation internationally,” said Drexel’s Vice Provost for Global Engagement Rogelio Miñana, PhD. “Philadelphia has a proud history of being an international city and a big part of that is due to the diplomatic efforts of the Consular Corps of Philadelphia and the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions.”

In recent years, Drexel has greatly increased its commitment to research and educational partnerships in Africa, including education efforts led by faculty in the Dornsife School of Public Health intended to reduce HIV risk among adolescent mothers and reduce intimate partner violence by helping young women attend school.

"On behalf of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia, we congratulate John Fry for his appointment as Honorary Consul of South Africa in Philadelphia,” said Peter S. Longstreth, president of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia. “Mr. Fry brings unique qualifications to his new position and the Republic of South Africa will benefit greatly from his prominent commitment to that country." 

Fry has made a number of visits to sub-Saharan Africa with the School’s benefactors, Dana and David Dornsife, to visit water sanitation and hygiene projects in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho funded by their philanthropy.

In 2020, he traveled to Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea with an envoy from the Academy of Natural Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences to discuss biodiversity conservation and how to enhance Drexel’s commitment to the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program.

In addition to the Bioko Project, the Academy regularly engages in international collaborations. One of them, brought to Philadelphia an exhibition by South African photographer Gideon Mendel that explored how flooding affects communities around the world.

“Drexel University has greatly increased its commitment to research in Africa, as well as educational partnerships and we believe that significant opportunities exist in promoting educational, social, cultural and economic partnerships with South Africa, and neighboring nations,” said Drexel Executive Vice Provost for Research and Innovation Aleister Saunders, PhD. “Promoting a strong diplomatic tie with the leadership of South Africa will lead to partnerships with educational, industrial, and cultural leaders of this leading nation in Africa and position Drexel as a key educational partner on the continent.”

As part of his term Fry will host leaders and dignitaries from South Africa and meet with university leaders and researchers who share Drexel’s vision for meaningful collaboration on joint educational and research programs.