Professor Fred Fry Announces Retirement

By Ken Klotz, Director, Illinois SBDC at Bradley University
Winter 2008


Mention the word “entrepreneurship” anywhere on campus or in the Peoria area and the name Fred Fry invariably emerges.  Professor Fry has been a tireless advocate of entrepreneurial endeavors during his thirty-three years at Bradley.  His impact has been felt by the business community, students, and academia.  Professor Fry has announced his retirement from Bradley, effective June 30.  He will be greatly missed by all.  Looking back on his years at Bradley, Fred says “33-years – what a great ride.  Bradley has been very good to me.”

Local businesses have Professor Fry to thank for his leadership in building the BMA 452, senior consulting project program, into one of the largest in the country.  More than 1,000 local companies have benefitted from this program.  Fred also served as the Bradley liaison and the coordinator of programs for the Family Business Forum during its existence.  Unknown to most, Professor Fry served as the first Director of the Illinois SBDC at Bradley during the mid 1980’s.

Bradley students love Professor Fry.  From chats in his office about their future, to chaperoning road trips to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization conference, to designing new courses that better prepare students for the business world, he has always had the students’ best interests in mind.  Fred has developed and taught many new courses, including Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Technology Entrepreneurship, and Franchising.

In 1996, Professor Fry spearheaded the effort to create a concentration in entrepreneurship.  As entrepreneurship evolved as a popular course of study, Fred saw the need to expand it from a concentration to a major.  In 2004, the major in entrepreneurship was created, with twenty-five energetic students participating.  Today, the number of students majoring in entrepreneurship has grown to over seventy.

Professor Fry has certainly established his presence in the academic community.  He has researched, written and had published, more than fifty scholarly articles.  Fred has participated in the writing of six books, some of which have had multiple editions, including “Introduction to Business” and “Entrepreneurship” textbooks.  Since writing has always been a passion of his, it is no surprise that Fred has served as editor for the “Journal of Small Business Strategy” for several years.  After his departure, Professor Paul Stephens will assume that role.

Fred has been very active during his career in the United States Association of Small Business & Entrepreneurship (USASBE).  He served on the Board of Directors for five years, was a division Vice President twice, and editor of “Liaison”, USASBE’s newsletter.  To illustrate the degree of high regard he has earned with his peers, Fred was named as a 2009 USASBE Fellow.

Commitment to Bradley University has been a hallmark of Fred’s career.  In addition to serving on many university committees, he assumed a leadership role as Chair of the Business Management Department for nine years – enough to qualify him for the fictional “glutton for punishment” award.  In 2007, Professor Fry was named the “Turner Chair of Entrepreneurship”, a position that will be assumed by UIC Professor Gerry Hills in August 2009.  Because the Foster College of Business has been his professional home since 1976, Fred has volunteered to write an updated history of the college, last performed by Bill Cleary in the early 1990’s.

As for his retirement plans, according to Fred, he and Lois plan to “Stay warm in the winter, travel, and do some volunteer work to help small businesses.”

On a personal note, Fred has been a friend, mentor, and confidant during my ten years at Bradley.  I am sure many others have had the same experience.  One measure of the impact of a persons’ career is the void left when they leave.  In that regard, Fred Fry will be a hard act to follow.  Good luck Fred!