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Commencement Keynote Speaker: John Fry

John Fry was appointed Drexel Universitys 14th president in 2010 and set out to transform Drexel into a private research university with a strong public purpose — an institution that harnesses its strengths to serve its students, its neighborhood, city and the nation. Prior to Drexel, Fry was president of Franklin & Marshall College, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania, and a management consultant for the higher education and nonprofit sectors.

Under Frys leadership, Drexel has set a national example for the execution of public-private partnerships, and become a powerful force for equitable economic growth in Greater Philadelphia. He has championed major neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including the creation of a multi-faceted university extension center in Mantua — the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships — extensive economic development efforts, and significant partnerships to support local neighborhood schools. He negotiated a groundbreaking affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences, launched the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship to foster entrepreneurial learning, and forged a series of academic and research partnerships to enhance Drexels global connections. Also, during Frys tenure, Drexel has seen a significant increase in fundraising and a growing number of philanthropic partners.

As part of Drexels role as an anchor institution, one that invests in its community as a way of doing business, Fry announced the creation of a subsidiary enterprise, now under Drexel Applied Innovation, to help faculty and students partner with the private sector to build businesses around their inventions. And, those relationships will be at the heart of Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion mixed-use development on University real estate adjacent to Philadelphias Amtrak 30th Street Station.

Fry came to Drexel from Franklin & Marshall College, where he served as president from 2002 until 2010, and was instrumental in the college’s academic growth, campus and neighborhood development and improved finances. During his tenure, he raised the college’s national profile and brought renewed confidence to the institution.

From 1995 to 2002, Fry served as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania. He was a major force in developing and implementing Penn’s “Agenda for Excellence,” a comprehensive plan that guided strategic initiatives from 1996 to 2001. He also built a coalition of nonprofit, business, neighborhood and governmental organizations in support of a multi-pronged strategy to address the key challenges facing the University City neighborhood in West Philadelphia.

Before joining Penn, Fry was a management consultant for the higher education and nonprofit sectors. He worked closely with some of the nation’s premier colleges and universities, first with KPMG Peat Marwick and then with Coopers and Lybrand’s National Higher Education Consulting Practice, where he was elected partner and eventually became partner-in-charge of the national practice.

Fry serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, the Kresge Foundation, the Wistar Institute, Lafayette College and the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. He also served two years as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, concluding his tenure in October 2018.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Fry graduated from Lafayette College and earned a masters degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.

Commencement Program

2024 Fall Commencement

Tuesday, October 15, 2024 | 2:00 p.m.
Kimmel Cultural Campus*


*Location and/or delivery format are subject to change in relation to health and safety guidelines.