Drexel University President John Fry will serve as Philadelphia's honorary consul of South Africa in addition to his current role, aiming to further international relations.
The position is voluntary and will allow Fry to continue his day-to-day administrative work for Drexel, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Drexel had established research collaborations throughout the continent prior to Fry's appointment — which was based on his "extensive background in establishing multidisciplinary educational and business collaborations," and approved by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions according to Drexel News.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for President Fry and the University, both to be of service to our nation and region, and to strengthen our partnerships and reputation internationally,” said Drexel’s Vice Provost for Global Engagement, Rogelio Miñana, said in the announcement.
The position of honorary consul was first brought to Fry's attention by Peter Longstreth, who is the head of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia and serves as the honorary consul of Uruguay. Longstreth told the Inquirer that Fry's experience in urban planning and education prepared him for the role.
Drexel Executive Vice Provost for Research and Innovation Aleister Saunders said in the announcement that the role presents "significant opportunities" for Drexel and the city to develop "educational, social, cultural and economic partnerships" in Africa.
“Promoting a strong diplomatic tie with the leadership of South Africa will lead to partnerships with educational, industrial, and cultural leaders of this leading nation in Africa and position Drexel as a key educational partner on the continent,” Saunders added.
Before his presidency at Drexel University, Fry served as executive vice president at Penn. Fry spent eight years at Penn and focused on finance, public safety, and the West Philadelphia community.
After an 18-year tenure at Penn, former Penn President Amy Gutmann departed the University and currently occupies a diplomatic role abroad, serving as the U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Fry told the Inquirer that he plans on hosting his first event as honorary consul this winter.