Penn’s former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Fry was named president of Drexel University Wednesday afternoon.
The Drexel Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of Fry, who will begin his tenure Aug. 1, according to a Drexel press release.
He has been the president of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. since 2002 and previously served as EVP and COO at Penn from 1995 to 2002 under President Judith Rodin.
Fry, who just found out about his appointment the day before it was officially announced, said he will “miss Lancaster,” but is excited to return to Philadelphia.
“Part of the attraction of this was to come home to Philadelphia,” he said.
He said he looks forward to working with Drexel administrators and developing their plans for the university.
“A vision has to be crafted,” he said, explaining that it will be a joint effort that will progress as he visits campus more often during the remainder of the spring semester.
Fry said he hopes to explore more ways for Drexel and Penn to collaborate in the future.
“It just makes sense,” he said, recognizing the two universities’ “tradition of working closely and well” with each other.
The former Penn executive maintains friendships with the administrators he worked with while EVP and said he keeps in touch with several, including current EVP Craig Carnaroli.
While at Penn, Fry implemented the “Agenda For Excellence” — the University’s strategic plan in the late 1990s. He initiated a facilities outsourcing arrangement with the Trammell Crow Company and brought new vendors to campus, including the movie theater and Fresh Grocer.
Controversy arose in 1997 when students and faculty members criticized him for outsourcing University building management to Trammell Crow.
Ultimately, the deal affected about 180 Penn employees whohad to apply to work for Trammell Crow. Approximately 80 percent of those employees were offered jobs by Trammell Crow, but they lost certain benefits.
Fry was also instrumental in the creation of the University City District, which helped facilitate communication between the universities, retailers and residents in the area.
With his return to Philadelphia, Fry said he plans to continue building connections between the universities and West Philadelphia neighborhoods. He said the relationship is not just a “big project” that can be completed, but that it is “always evolving.”
There is “never a moment when it won’t be a priority,” he said.
A native New Yorker, Fry studied American Civilization at Lafayette College and earned a master’s degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Over the past decade, Fry has been a finalist for the presidency of the University of Vermont and Temple University, but he withdrew on both occasions.
Drexel had been searching for a new president for almost a year after Constantine Papadakis, who served as president for 14 years, died of lung cancer in April 2009.
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