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Temple University in Philadelphia brings John Fry from neighboring Drexel University to the university as president.

AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Temple University has hired John Fry from nearby Drexel University as its 15th president, completing a search that was complicated by the sudden death of incumbent President JoAnne Epps last fall, the Philadelphia-based university said.

Fry, 63, has been Drexel’s president since 2010 and will begin his tenure at 30,500-student Temple University after Drexel appoints new leadership, Temple said in a statement. The two Philadelphia campuses are barely two miles apart.

Fry’s appointment was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Temple University Board of Trustees, the university said.

Fry told the Philadelphia Inquirer that improving campus security at the city college will be a priority, as will commercial development of Temple’s research activities, similar to work he did at Drexel and before that at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, where he was president from 2002 to 2010.

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Epps died suddenly in September at the age of 72 after falling ill onstage at a memorial service. The title “actress” was removed from her title to recognize her achievements during her short tenure.

Epps, a former dean and provost of Temple’s law school, had succeeded Jason Wingard, who had led the university since 2021, months earlier.

Wingard resigned shortly before a vote of no confidence by the teachers union, whose members expressed concerns about declining enrollment, financial problems and labor disputes.

His resignation came after a turbulent tenure of less than two years and amid a wave of violence that had spread fear and terror across the North Philadelphia campus.

Wingard had told a panel of state lawmakers a week earlier that the murder rate in Philadelphia had created a climate of fear among students, parents, teachers and staff.

The previous month, a Temple University police officer was shot and killed near the campus in North Philadelphia.

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