PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Temple University has hired John Fry of nearby Drexel University to become its 15th president, concluding a search that had been buffeted by the sudden death last fall of acting President JoAnne Epps, the Philadelphia school said.

Fry, 63, has been Drexel's president since 2010 and will start his tenure at the 30,500-student Temple after Drexel names new leadership, Temple said in a statement. The campuses are barely 2 miles from each other in Philadelphia.

Fry’s appointment was confirmed by a unanimous vote of Temple's board of trustees, the university said.

Fry told The Philadelphia Inquirer that improving campus safety at the urban school will be a priority, as will the commercial development of Temple's research pursuits, similar to the work he put in at Drexel and, before that, at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, where he was president from 2002 to 2010.

Epps died suddenly in September at age 72 after falling ill onstage at a memorial event. The “acting” designation was removed from her title in recognition of her contributions during her brief tenure.

Epps, Temple’s former law school dean and provost, took over months earlier from Jason Wingard, who had led the university since 2021.

Wingard resigned shortly before a no-confidence vote by the faculty union, with members citing concerns over falling enrollment, financial issues and labor disputes.

His resignation followed a tumultuous tenure of less than two years and amid a surge of violence that had sent fear through the north Philadelphia campus.

Wingard had a week earlier told a panel of state lawmakers that Philadelphia’s homicide rate has wrought a climate in which students, parents, and faculty and staff members were afraid.

A Temple University police officer was shot and killed near the north Philadelphia campus the prior month.

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