The architect of Drexel’s plan for the future will remain at the head of the University until at least the start of the next decade.
During their latest meeting, the Drexel Board of Trustees announced that they decided to extend President John A. Fry’s contract for five more years.
“President Fry has demonstrated a unique vision for how an urban research university like Drexel can serve not only our students but also society,” said Richard A. Greenawalt, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “He’s built a consensus around that vision while tackling the challenges of the rapidly changing higher education landscape. Our board is happy to have this extension in place so we can continue the good work that’s been started."
Fry came to serve as Drexel’s president in 2010. Under his leadership, the University conducted a successful fundraising campaign, raising $455 million, which far surpassed the goal of $400 million.
Additionally, $425 million has been spent on Drexel’s academic/research capital renewal projects, including such signature Drexel facilities like the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, the URBN Center and Gerri C. LeBow Hall.
A special focus Fry brought to the University is that of using Drexel as a driver for economic expansion and educational opportunity for the University’s surrounding neighborhoods and Philadelphia as a whole.
Private developers have invested $475 million in the Drexel campus over the last five years on projects like The Summit, Chestnut Square and The Study at University City. Those projects created construction jobs and, subsequently, permanent jobs through the creation of businesses at those sites. During Fry’s time at Drexel, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships was also established through a generous donation of $10 million from Dana and David Dornsife, creating an impactful focal point for the University’s outreach efforts.
New Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD, feels that Fry’s extension will serve to “fortify the bright future of the University.”
“President Fry has set a bold agenda that will undoubtedly continue to elevate the institution,” according to Blake.
With bold plans of his own to establish new academic programs, create alternate enrollment plans and build upon Drexel’s strength areas, Blake knows Fry’s extension will help provide the needed support to move forward with such plans across the University.
“President Fry is a phenomenal leader and, under his mentorship, there is a level of stability in creating and implementing new programs that ensures success for our academic vision,” Blake said.
There is still work to be done under Fry’s leadership. The University’s strategic plan, which was established under his direction in 2012 and updated this year, extends until 2019.
Among other initiatives, the plan seeks to establish Drexel research as a leader in higher education and expand the University’s global reach. Also, the plan calls for Drexel to create a student body that is better equipped and more likely to stay at the University through graduation and become active alumni.
Fry already made moves to support that goal when he directed Randall Deike, PhD, the senior vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success (whom Fry recruited to Drexel) to overhaul the University’s undergraduate enrollment strategy to increase the quality of incoming classes, improve retention and graduation rates and better facilitate financial aid.
Although Blake has only been at Drexel since August, he can detect a confidence in Fry that the trustees’ decision confirms.
“This level of commitment represents the highest level of confidence that the trustees have in Fry’s presidency — which is great, because it’s easy to see, even in my short three months here, the incredible level of trust that the University community has in his leadership,” Blake said.