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In a First, President Fry Gives Convocation Address Abroad

Drexel President John A. Fry deliveing the convocation address at Nirma University’s 21st annual convocation in Ahmedabad, India.

May 16, 2016

President John A. Fry delivered the convocation address at Nirma University’s 21st annual convocation in Ahmedabad, India on April 18 to an audience of 500 graduates and their faculty, friends and family. This was the first convocation address Fry has given abroad.

“It was an honor to represent Drexel in India, and to meet many alumni, parents and friends and further establish our University’s growing global reach,” said President Fry. “It was especially gratifying to speak at Nirma University, where our alumnus Hirenbhai Patel is helping to lead one of the most exciting institutions of higher education in Asia.” 

Fry’s presence at the convocation further cements the relationship between Nirma and Drexel. Drexel’s LeBow College of Business currently offers a scholarship program that matches Nirma funding for its engineering students to study business analytics at Drexel.

“We’re trying to create more of a presence in India,” said Julie Mostov, senior vice provost of global initiatives, who accompanied Fry on his trip.   “We’re very interested in developing research collaborations for faculty and students, as well as opportunities for Drexel students to study and find co-ops in India. We are combining this outreach with alumni and recruiting efforts in the country.”

Before the convocation, Fry met with Nirma’s faculty and deans. There was a lively discussion about the trends in higher education and the challenges and opportunities universities such as ours are addressing today.

Despite being on opposite sides of the globe, Mostov said Fry and Nirma President Karasnbhai K. Patel have the same concerns about the future of their universities: How best to prepare students for the job market in the 21st century? How can a university encourage students to be civically engaged and socially responsible? Co-op and the opportunities for industry connections were also discussed.

“Entrepreneurship is now part of how our university teaches; it’s part of the research we do and part of how our students prepare for careers through real-world experience,” Fry said in his convocation address. “The ways in which we encourage creativity, interdisciplinarity and experimentation are making us more productive and impactful as a university. Drexel students have responded to that encouragement. They want to be as entrepreneurial as possible.”

The day after the convocation, Fry visited the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, to meet with its director, V. Ramgopal Rao, PhD, and deans to talk about expanding and deepening the relationship between the two universities, initiated through a successful bi-national Singh-Obama grant. 

The trip was capped with an event for Drexel alumni and accepted students, the first in India, at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi.

“That was great,” Mostov said. “In addition to alumni, students were there, parents of current students, and parents of students who had been admitted and were trying to decide whether to come to Drexel. It was a chance for people to meet President Fry and to learn more about the campus, co-op, and Philadelphia. It was a chance for lively conversation and a wonderful event.”