Drexel President John A. Fry has been named chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) has announced that Drexel President John A. Fry will serve as its Chairman beginning in October 2016. He has been a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors since 2010 and a member of its Executive Committee since 2011.
Fry has served as the president of Drexel University since 2010. Under Fry’s leadership, Drexel is setting a new standard for cooperative education, transforming its online and hybrid offerings, and becoming a powerful force for economic development in the Greater Philadelphia region.
“I am humbled and thrilled to serve as the next Chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce,” said Fry. “When I became president of Drexel University, I saw the institution as a catalyst for growth and development in the surrounding community and Philadelphia as a whole. As Chairman of the Chamber, I will utilize that same spirit to affect positive change for our members, area residents and the region’s economy.”
The Chamber’s current Chairman, Denis O’Brien, Senior Executive Vice President, Exelon Corp; CEO, Exelon Utilities, said, “John’s demonstrated leadership in higher education and the community position him perfectly for this role. He is the ideal person to lead the Chamber during this exciting time of regional growth and innovation.”
Fulfilling a commitment he made to Drexel’s neighbors in his first address as Drexel president, Fry has championed major neighborhood initiatives including the PECO-Drexel Education Collaborative supporting local public schools, the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. He also attracted $475 million in anticipated private investment in Philadelphia under Drexel’s Campus Master Plan, by partnering with third-party developers to build and manage new infrastructure including student residences, market-rate housing, retail amenities and a hotel.
A focal point of Drexel’s strategic plan is to become an even greater economic engine for Greater Philadelphia. The University’s capacity for translational research, discovery and innovation fuels that effort, amplified by a range of initiatives that help faculty and students partner with the private sector to build businesses around their work: the Coulter Foundation-Drexel Translational Research Partnership Program, Drexel Ventures, the Drexel-Ben Franklin Technology Partners Seed Fund, the ExCITe Center (Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies) and the Innovation Center @ 3401 Market, to name just a few. And that capacity is the driving force behind the 10-acre live/work/learn neighborhood in development on University real estate adjacent to Philadelphia’s Amtrak 30th Street Station.
Chamber President and CEO Rob Wonderling said, “The Chamber welcomes John Fry as its new Chairman beginning in October. John has a broad understanding of policy and an ability to convene diverse sets of stakeholders. These qualities will allow him to be a visionary leader as the Chamber continues to build initiatives like the Health Care Innovation Collaborative and Action Team, Roadmap for Growth, Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team and other key projects in the future.”
Fry came to Drexel from Franklin & Marshall College, where he served as president from 2002 and was instrumental in the college’s academic growth, campus and neighborhood development and improved finances. He raised the college’s national profile and brought a renewed confidence to the institution. During his tenure, the quality of the student body improved dramatically as measured by a 63-point gain in average SATs over seven years. He also improved the student-to-faculty ratio to 10:1 by adding more than 40 faculty positions, oversaw an updated curriculum and made a long-term commitment to increase financial aid. Fry forged new partnerships with the city and neighbors, improving the surrounding business district and neighborhoods.
From 1995 to 2002, Fry served as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania. He was a major force in developing and implementing Penn’s “Agenda for Excellence,” a comprehensive plan that guided strategic initiatives from 1996 to 2001. He also built a coalition of nonprofit, business, neighborhood and governmental organizations in support of a multi-pronged strategy to address the key challenges facing the University City neighborhood in West Philadelphia.
Before joining Penn, Fry was a management consultant for the higher education and nonprofit sectors. He worked closely with some of the nation’s premier colleges and universities, first with KPMG Peat Marwick and then with Coopers & Lybrand’s National Higher Education Consulting Practice, where he was elected a partner in the firm and eventually became partner-in-charge of the national practice.
In 2014, Fry began a three-year term as a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education, representing his fellow U.S. university presidents in the nation's most influential higher education association. He also serves on the boards of Lafayette College, The Shipley School, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and US Squash, for which he has served as chairman. He was the founding chairman of the University City District and served in that capacity for five years. He is also a director of Community Health Systems, Delaware Investments and FS OneEquity, a joint venture led by Franklin Square Partners.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Fry graduated from Lafayette College and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.