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 is setting a new standard for online and hybrid education, public-private partnerships, and becoming a powerful force for economic development in Greater Philadelphia. 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 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 in the region, Fry announced the creation of Drexel Ventures, a subsidiary enterprise 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 Lafayette College, the Agnes Irwin School, Andalusia Foundation, Delaware Investments, Community Health Systems, the Wistar Institute, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, and the Kresge Foundation. 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, an incoming freshman at Drexel.