Fry outlines plan, goals for his Temple presidency

In an interview with The Temple News, Fry explained his primary goals as he takes over Philadelphia’s largest university.

John Fry was officially apointed as Temple's 15th president on Wednesday morning after a Board of Trustees vote. | TEMPLE UNIVERSITY / COURTESY

John Fry had already put considerable thought into how he wanted to go about his job long before he was officially appointed Temple’s 15th president Wednesday morning.

Fry, who was appointed by Temple’s Board of Trustees after an unanimous vote, won’t officially take over at Temple until Drexel finds his replacement. He’s still serving on the school’s Board of Trustees and will be an active member of its search committee.

He spent the week leading up to the announcement reaching out to hundreds of Drexel stakeholders explaining his reasoning for the move. It wasn’t easy, he said.

Fry laid out his vision for Temple under his leadership in an interview with The Temple News Wednesday afternoon, just hours after he was officially appointed. Public safety will be an early “key priority,” he said.

Here are some of Fry’s early plans as he prepares to take the reins of Philadelphia’s largest and only public university.


Two years before Temple would do the same, Drexel commissioned 21CP Solutions to conduct an external review of campus safety in 2020, which Fry said was “the absolute right thing to do.” 

The 68 recommendations from the 2022 Temple audit include methods to train and retain Temple University Police Department officers, partnerships with the Philadelphia Police Department and improved responses to situations involving mental health crisis or sexual assault.

Fry plans to continue implementing these suggestions as he familarizes himself with the Department of Public Safety and joins in on TUPD patrols in the community. He also wants to establish regular interactions with students to discuss how and where campus feels unsafe. 

Fry mentioned a strong partnership with Temple Student Government as a way to get a pulse on the student body.

“I would certainly want to go out on patrols, really want to get out into neighborhoods,” Fry said. [Public safety is] the kind of thing given my experience that you just have to stick with over a long period of time and continue to be ready to invest in. The other thing I would do is make sure that either through Student Government or some other mechanism, there’s regular interactions with students in terms of how they feel about the safety of campus.”


Temple enrolled 30,530 students in Fall 2023, an almost 22 percent decrease from 2019 when Temple had 39,088 students. The decline has affected tuition, program and budget cuts and on-going union negotiations.

The university hired Jose Aviles last year as vice provost for enrollment management and began implementing more student recruitment strategies during application times. The university reported a record 39,681 applications for the 2024-25 school year.

“The team must have done a remarkable job this year, because this has been an absolutely brutal enrollment year, because of the failure of the FAFSA,” Fry said. “The fact that Temple is up that much, really, really says something – most schools are not even close to that.”

Fry wants to consider increasing international and nation-wide students coming into Temple. While he believes Temple is well-established in Pennsylvania, there are more opportunities for growth in other areas of the US or in countries like South Korea, Vietnam or India, where Drexel saw more international students from. 

He also sees opportunities in Temple’s online infrastructure. Drexel offers 150 different online degree and certificate programs, with about 16 percent of Drexel students being exclusively online.

“Being an R1 university, being in the sixth largest city in America, being in a place that has such incredible cultural riches, a great restaurant scene, music, art and such a great, walkable city that has so much diversity – how are we explaining what Temple and Philly is like?” Fry said. “I would spend time with the enrollment team and the communications and marketing team on all those items to provide some of my input into how we could move even faster back to some of the numbers that I know we’ve seen in years past.”


Fry wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2016 explaining why Drexel gladly says no to a college football team, but said he has no plans to end or alter Temple’s program. He isn’t going to set any other decisions in stone until he has a better understanding for each of the university’s athletic programs, he said.

But Fry did commit to a “concerted effort” to reach out to alumni and other benefactors to make a case for why Temple Athletics is worthy of investment.

“I would want to make sure that, after understanding the state of the program, what are the kind of things that we can do to bolster the investments where we think we have a chance to compete better?” Fry said. “I’m really passionate about this and I am really looking forward to understanding the lay of the land and seeing what I could do to help make improvements.”

Temple paid the Philadelphia Eagles $4.5 million in 2022 for the football team to play at Lincoln Financial Field. Students rarely make the trip from Temple’s North Philadelphia campus to the South Philly sports complex — which is put on even further display when the team isn’t winning. Temple has won just six of their last 24 games.

Fry wouldn’t comment on whether or not playing at the Linc is sustainable over the long term, but said his goal is to make the fan experience as easy as possible for students.

“I know the Eagles’ ownership very well and these are good people,” Fry said. “I need to understand, what are the typical economics for this type of thing? What are we going to do to make that experience easy for students? It’s not easy to get out there unless you have a car.”


Drexel completed its most ambitious fundraising campaign in school history under Fry’s leadership, raising more than $800 million from 42,000 alumni between 2017-22. Funds were specifically earmarked for university improvements like student success, academic support and endowed professorships and chairs for faculty. 

Temple has prioritized improving its fundraising efforts in recent years, and Fry hopes to jumpstart those improvements. Making sure alumni feel excited and enthusiastic about their alma mater is where it starts, Fry said.

One such initiative, “Made For More,” was announced last year and aims to raise 125 million dollars for scholarships across the next three years to create more affordable education. Some alumni remained uninspired to contribute, The Temple News reported.

“There’s a very basic principle that I have, which is that it is really, really important to engage people extensively before ever asking for money,” Fry said. “How are you, on a regular basis, updating them about the progress of the university? Not just the good things, but being honest about the challenges. Have you reached out to them and really spent time with these people? Any of the big gifts I’ve had the privilege of raising have been the result of extensive, extensive relationships that turn into friendships.”

Fry also looked toward 2034, Temple’s 150th anniversary, as an opportunity for a fundraising “rallying cry for alumni.”

“That seems like miles away, but in my mind, that’s actually a huge benefit to start getting people excited,” Fry said. “This incredible place is going to celebrate 150 years, it is really worthy of your financial support.”


Fry said he hasn’t had many conversations with current administrators at Temple. He didn’t comment on whether or not he would shake up the current administration, but he did say he is looking forward to getting to know Temple’s administrators in the coming months and getting a better understanding of what his staff will look like.

Fry also said he is not the type of person who will bring in swaths of people from his previous institution with him, but he will look to make decisions that will put Temple in the best position to thrive.

“What I have done in the past, having been through a few of these transitions, is you come in and spend a lot of time really trying to understand the organization the way it currently is and the way those people want it to be,” Fry said. “Then I have some of my own direct experience as well and formulate my own opinion.”

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