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Special assistant to remain in position

April 17, 2008

Although Chancellor Don Betz is leaving his position this summer, the special assistant to the Chancellor, Blake Fry, plans on keeping his job.

“I’m not in the process of creating backup plans,” Fry said. “When a new chancellor comes aboard and they indicate to me that they would like to make an administrative change and that administrative change involves my no longer being employed here, then I’ll make plans to seek other employment. But right now I plan to be here at UWRF for the long haul.”

The special assistant role has been a staple in the UW System for decades. The position at UWRF, however, became a full-time position when Fry accepted it in 2007. Along with the longer hours came more responsibility than the title implies. He coordinates campus emergency preparedness efforts, which include pre-disaster planning and crisis intervention. He is involved in the organization of civic engagement activities such as the American Democracy and Campus Compact, with the goal of getting students more involved with politics and community affairs. Also, he oversees issues regarding campus diversity and supports functions for the chancellor.

“That can be everything from serving on special committees, representing the chancellor, doing research on projects, writing, communications, just a random variety of special projects that come through the chancellor’s office,” Fry said.

Faculty members and academic staff with tenure have job security, because of “rolling horizon contracts” which guarantee employment despite changes in administration.  Many at the administrative level serve “at will” and can be dismissed without explanation, which includes Fry’s position.

“When the new chancellor comes in, it’s the prerogative of that new chancellor to make what changes they want and that’s just not specific to my job, that’s pretty much anybody at a particular administrative level,” Fry said.

Fry has a doctorate in higher education administration from Oklahoma State University, a master’s degree in business administration from Avila University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wichita University. He also serves on the board for the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education.

Although he is highly accomplished, Fry still has professional goals to achieve.

“Well, I eventually someday would like to be the president or chancellor myself…. By eventually it could be 10 years from now,” he said.