Posted July 3, 2024

Temple University appoints its 15th president, higher education leader John Fry

Fry’s appointment was confirmed by a vote of the Board of Trustees following a comprehensive national search overseen by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and informed by a robust community engagement process.

President-elect John Fry pictured.
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito
Following a comprehensive national search overseen by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, higher education leader John Fry has been named as Temple University's 15th president.

Today, Temple University proudly announces the appointment of John Fry as its 15th president. Fry’s appointment was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees following a comprehensive national search overseen by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and informed by a robust community engagement process. Fry will officially start his tenure after new leadership has been named at Drexel University.  

“I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve as the 15th President of Temple University, a globally recognized, mission-driven R1 university. 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,” said Fry, incoming president-elect of Temple University. “I am grateful for the confidence of Chair Mitch Morgan and the Board of Trustees, and particularly honored to succeed President Richard Englert and the late former President JoAnne Epps, both of whom I admire greatly. I also want to express my deepest gratitude and admiration for the entire Drexel University community, where I will continue to serve until our board of trustees has named new leadership.” 

“This is a great day for Temple University. With his demonstrated success as a higher education leader and his expertise in academic and research excellence, community engagement, global impact, and his fundraising prowess, John Fry embodies the experiences and qualities that our community said they were looking for in the university’s 15th president,” said Board of Trustees Chair Mitchell L. Morgan. “After decades of positively impactful work in higher education and economic and community development, this appointment is also a win for the city of Philadelphia as John now brings his experience and a fresh vision to Temple University.” 

Since 2010, Fry has served as the innovative president of Drexel University. During his tenure, Fry elevated Drexel’s global presence through academic and research partnerships, major NIH and NSF research programs, and hubs for collaboration. Under his leadership, Drexel forged a series of academic and research partnerships to enhance its global connections in China, Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Chile, India and South Korea. In 2019, Fry was named to the Fulbright Specialist Program by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and World Learning and served as Fulbright specialist to Italy in 2023. His residency was spent working with education leaders at the Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) to identify collaborative opportunities for innovation and economic development. In 2023, Fry oversaw a merger between Drexel and Salus University, strengthening Drexel’s place as a leader in preparing future interprofessional health sciences practitioners by adding renowned Salus graduate degree programs such as optometry, audiology, blindness and low-vision studies, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and orthotics and prosthetics. 

Fry has championed high-impact academic initiatives to increase opportunities for students and faculty, and prioritized student and faculty success. With Fry at the helm, Drexel advanced several universitywide initiatives including improving the teaching, learning and research framework to best allow for interdisciplinary collaboration and program innovation.

In 2013, Drexel established the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship to integrate entrepreneurial learning into the curriculum. In 2019, Fry led the launch of Drexel Ventures, a subsidiary that connects faculty and students to the private sector to spur and scale innovation and is part of the innovative $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards mixed-use development that has become a hub for technology and life sciences companies on Drexel’s campus. 

At Drexel, Fry oversaw a DI athletics program with over 470 Drexel student-athletes competing in 18 Division I NCAA sports in the Coastal Athletic Association. He is the past chair of the board of directors for the conference. Fry was also instrumental in bringing the U.S. Open Squash Championship to Drexel and helping to establish the Specter U.S. Squash Center at the former site of the Pennsylvania Armory on the university’s campus. 

During Fry’s time at Drexel, the university set a national example for the successful execution of public-private partnerships and has become a powerful force for economic development and advancing access to healthcare in the Greater Philadelphia region. He created the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, an extension center that connects Drexel with community residents, the PECO-Drexel Education Collaborative supporting local schools and the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, which focuses on equitable advancement strategies for cities. In 2019, Drexel and Tower Health acquired St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, ensuring that St. Christopher’s will remain a source of health and healing, medical education and research, and jobs and economic benefit for its North Philadelphia neighborhood and the broader region. 

I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve as the 15th President of Temple University, a globally recognized, mission-driven R1 university. 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.
-- President-elect Fry
From 2017-2022, under Fry’s leadership, Drexel University completed its most ambitious fundraising and engagement campaign in school history by raising more than $800 million from more than 42,000 alumni and 4,000 friends of the university—exceeding its original goal of $750 million more than six months ahead of its June 2022 completion date. Titled “The Future Is a Place We Make” and planned as a “people-focused” initiative to support the university community, of the $800 million raised, funds were specifically earmarked for key opportunities and improvements including student success, research, academic support, and endowed professorships and chairs for faculty. The campaign also marked a new era of alumni engagement and opportunities, exceeding its original target of reaching 35,000 alumni through philanthropic support, volunteer service and activity participation.  

“The Future Is a Place We Make” came on the heels of the university’s record-setting fundraising campaign “Dream It. Do It. Drexel. A Campaign for the Future,” which launched in 2011. With an initial goal of reaching $400 million by June 2014, the campaign ended in December 2013 with its goal exceeded by $55 million, bringing in more than 16,000 new donors, and increasing faculty and staff participation from 12% to 62%. 

Fry previously served as president of Franklin and Marshall College from 2002– 2010, and as executive vice president of University of Pennsylvania. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Fry graduated from Lafayette College and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.  

Fry will eventually succeed President Richard M. Englert, who has served the Temple community for 48 years. Englert first arrived at Temple in 1976 as an assistant to the dean of the College of Education. Since then, he has served in an array of leadership roles—one of the most recent being his term as Temple’s 11th president from 2016 to 2021. 

“We are deeply grateful to Dick Englert for stepping up during a difficult transition and serving Temple in his third—and perhaps most momentous—turn as president,” said Morgan. “We thank him for answering the call, as he always has, and we know he will continue to provide a steady hand of leadership during this transition.” 

Englert is eager to work with Fry to ensure a smooth transition between the two leaders. 

“John Fry has built a reputation as one of the most distinguished higher education leaders in the history of Philadelphia. I have had the privilege of getting to know and working closely with John over the years, and he is absolutely the right leader for Temple at this moment,” said President Englert. “This is truly a great day for Temple, and I look forward to working closely with John to ensure a seamless transition.” 

Englert assumed the role in fall 2023 after the sudden passing of President JoAnne A. Epps. The former university provost and dean of Beasley School of Law, Epps’ signature contributions to Temple were her mission-aligned advocacy for educational access, responsiveness, affordability and mentorship of young leaders. 

As Temple University’s 15th president, Fry will build on these legacies while setting forth his own leadership priorities. He will be responsible for leading this Philadelphia institution that boasts 17 schools and colleges, eight campuses, more than 600 academic programs, over 30,000 students, 8,700 faculty and staff, and nearly 360,000 living alumni. Additionally, Fry will oversee Temple Health—one of the region’s top academic health systems driving medical advances through clinical innovation, pioneering research and world-class education. 

Fry was selected not only for his significant experience in the local higher education landscape, but for his clear understanding of Temple University’s role as a leading academic research institution, dedicated community partner, and resource for growth and development, as well as its integral connection to the city of Philadelphia and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Fry will chart the course forward for Temple, meeting its challenges with practical solutions, and overseeing ongoing, sustainable transformation. 

Leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart supported the university’s search, alongside the 17-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee which was composed of trustees and representatives of important university stakeholders—deans, faculty, staff, and students, as well as the greater Philadelphia community.  

Critical to the process was a series of community conversations led by research and strategy firm, The Collective Genius. 

“These sessions brought to the forefront the hopes and concerns of the Temple community and helped us zero in on exactly the right leader for right now—someone who reflects our core values of rigor, passion, grit and collaboration and can unite our community around a common purpose,” said Morgan. “John Fry is the ideal leader to realize Temple’s mission and propel our outstanding university forward.” 

“As a member of the Presidential Search Committee representing the thoughts and concerns of our faculty, I have appreciated the opportunity not only to be a part of the search process, but also witness firsthand how the qualities and capabilities that faculty were looking for in the university’s next leader were not only heard, but also realized in the candidate the committee provided to the Board of Trustees for consideration,” said Shohreh Amini, president of the Faculty Senate and professor of biology in the College of Science and Technology. “Faculty made it very clear that we wanted someone who had experience leading a major institution, and who has an appreciation for higher education. We look forward to supporting and working alongside President Fry.”