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July 03, 2024

Temple University names Drexel's John Fry as its next president

Among his first priorities: Ensuring student safety, an issue that partly led to the resignation of Jason Wingard last year.

Education Temple University
John Fry Temple Provided Image/Temple University

John Fry will leave Drexel University to become the new president of Temple University. At Drexel, he helped launch Schuylkill Yards, upgraded the school's campus and oversaw the merger with Salus University.

Temple University's next president is a familiar face among Philadelphia's academics scene.  

John Fry, 64, who has served as Drexel University's president since 2010, will become Temple's 15th president once Drexel selects his successor. Temple's board of directors unanimously voted to confirm his appointment Wednesday morning.

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Fry said he was "deeply humbled" by the opportunity. 

"Temple stands as a cornerstone of our region's vitality — a vibrant and accessible anchor institution that provides transformative opportunities and positively impacts countless lives through its mission," Fry said in a statement.

Richard Englert has been serving as Temple's interim president since the death of acting President JoAnne Epps in September. He previously had served as Temple's president from 2016 to 2021. 

Within the last year, Fry oversaw Drexel's merger with Salus University and the university's disbandment of a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus. His biggest achievements include partnering with Brandywine Realty Trust to transform a section of University City into Schuylkill Yards, a hub for technology and life sciences companies. He upgraded Drexel's campus, hammered out the university's affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences and oversaw Drexel and Tower Health's joint purchase of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. 

Temple touted Fry's fundraising efforts as a hallmark of his Drexel tenure, citing the $800 million that a fundraising campaign generated from 42,000 alumni and 4,000 other donors between 2017 and 2022. 

At Temple, Fry will be tasked with ensuring student safety – an issue that partly led to the resignation of former President Jason Wingard last year. 

In February 2023, Temple police officer Christopher Fitzgerald was shot and killed while attempting to thwart a carjacking, intensifying concerns about violent crime near campus. A 21-year-old student had been fatlly shot several blocks from campus in November 2021, and there also had been several home invasions and carjackings involving students. Earlier this year, a Temple employee was stabbed near campus, and, in June, police charged a 21-year-old Temple student with murder for killing his girlfriend. 

Fry told the Inquirer that safety would be an "early priority" in his tenure as Temple's president. 

Wingard had became Temple's first Black president in 2021, but he stepped down less than two years later. He was set to face a no-confidence vote amid concerns about violent crime, labor disputes, financial challenges and falling enrollment. 

Epps took over on an interim basis until her death, and was posthumously named Temple's 14th president.

Before leading Drexel, Fry was executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2002 and the president of Franklin & Marshall College from 2002 to 2010.