The Drexel University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on May 9 to extend President John Fry’s contract by another five years effective July 1, thus continuing his tenure until 2023.
The decision to extend the contract comes as the University is amid its most ambitious fundraising effort ever, a $750 million campaign that was announced in November to catalyze a new era of impact at Drexel. And it will ensure steady leadership as the University continues to grow. Most recently, the University announced it will enroll its most academically talented class of incoming freshmen next fall, after receiving deposits from a record-breaking number of students for the second year in a row.
Since his contract was last extended in 2015, President Fry has followed through with goals to reshape Drexel’s enrollment and retention strategy through increased financial aid and academic support for students, which has led to a higher retention rate in recent years, and an expansion of the University’s comprehensive recruitment efforts. The University has been recognized for its efforts through gains in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education College Rankings.
Since being appointed Drexel’s 14th president in 2010, President Fry has modernized the University by leading the institution through a series of new and innovative endeavors and partnerships. In 2011, he announced the creation of Drexel’s partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, which has since created a clear and creative path for faculty, staff, students and researchers to connect and work together for research and co-ops. In 2012, he oversaw the formation of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, which is the first research organization built around a scientific, public health-based approach to exploring autism spectrum disorders. More recently, Drexel has expanded its research interests and reputation as an innovative institution with the creation of an Advanced Functional Fabrics of America laboratory to serve as a national manufacturing resource center for “smart fabrics.”
President Fry has focused on making the University more innovative and inclusive. A large part of that initiative is the ambitious Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion mixed-use project of academic, commercial, residential, retail and open space on 14 acres that was announced in 2016 and broke ground a year later. President Fry also announced his vision to make the University “the most civically engaged university in the United States,” and has since overseen the expansion of Drexel’s support of its neighborhoods and the West Philadelphia Promise Zone through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships and other Drexel partnerships and collaborations.
“President Fry has implemented a dynamic vision for how an urban university can attract and inspire excellent students, conduct pathbreaking research, bolster the surrounding neighborhood, partner with others and serve as an anchor institution in the region,” said Richard A. Greenawalt, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The enrollment and budget measures implemented in recent years have strengthened the University’s finances, which resulted in “A” ratings and “Stable” outlooks from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Last year, the strong performance of Drexel’s $722 million endowment landed the University in the top 11 percent of endowments and foundations of U.S. institutional assets. Under Fry’s leadership, Drexel has also seen great fundraising success. Two major donations included a record $50 million naming gift from Thomas R. Kline for the Kline School of Law in 2014, and $45 million from Dana and David Dornsife for the Dornsife School of Public Health in 2015.
President Fry is in the second year of his tenure as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, underscoring the university’s commitment to civic engagement.