John Fry was appointed Drexel University’s 14th president in 2010 and set out to transform Drexel into a private research university with a strong public purpose — an institution that harnesses its strengths to serve its students, its neighborhood, city and the nation. Prior to Drexel, Fry was president of Franklin & Marshall College, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania, and a management consultant for the higher education and nonprofit sectors.
Under Fry’s leadership, Drexel has set a national example for the execution of public-private partnerships, and become a powerful force for economic development in Greater Philadelphia. He has championed major neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including the creation of a multi-faceted university extension center in Mantua — the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships — extensive economic development efforts, and significant partnerships to support local neighborhood schools. He negotiated a groundbreaking affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, launched the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship to foster entrepreneurial learning, and forged a series of academic and research partnerships to enhance Drexel’s global connections in China, Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Chile, India and South Korea. Also, during Fry’s tenure, Drexel has seen a significant increase in fundraising and a growing number of philanthropic partners.
As part of Drexel’s role as anchor institution, Fry announced the creation of a subsidiary enterprise, now under Drexel Applied Innovation, to help faculty and students partner with the private sector to build businesses around their inventions. And those relationships will be at the heart of Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion mixed-use development on University real estate adjacent to Philadelphia’s Amtrak 30th Street Station.
Fry serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Tower Health, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, the Kresge Foundation, the Wistar Institute and Lafayette College. He also served two years as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, concluding his tenure in October 2018.
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. He and his wife Cara, an art historian, have three children: Mia, a student at Penn Law; Nat, an entrepreneur; and Phoebe, a freshman at Drexel.