January 24, 2024

James Fry, a long-time Cowley College employee, retires

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Having worked all over South Central Kansas and beyond on various projects and with different organizations, James Fry, coordinator of Cowley College’s ACES (Academic Civic Engagement through Service) organization, recently announced his retirement from the school after nearly 27 years of employment.

When Fry originally started at the College, the ACES program was known as VOLTS (Volunteers Learning Through Service). The program has gone through many iterations since then. Eventually, Cowley paired the program down to a one-man show and put Fry in charge.

The ACES program involves active participants in the local community, selflessly giving of their time and talents. They are not just volunteers but students with a unique opportunity to challenge themselves outside the realm of academia.

Connections are made (through reflection logs, journals, class presentations, meeting with instructors and meetings with other students) between classroom work and work in service. The program also takes an active role in teaching others—through classes, friendships and in the communities.

According to Fry’s daughter, Micah, who serves as the Workforce and Community Education coordinator, most weekends growing up in the Fry household were spent with college students out on a project.

“My freshman year of college (Fall 2011), dad organized a bus trip to Joplin, Missouri, to clean up after the tornado,” Fry said. “We worked with a local church who helped to station Cowley students around the city doing various projects all day.”

Fry and the ACES organization’s big annual event, the food packaging event with The Outreach Program, has benefited local charities and international partners. ACES helped package some of the first relief food to hit Haiti after the earthquake and traveled to help run a world record-setting packaging event for The Outreach Program.

While ACES is a volunteer program, it is truly service learning. Learning, reflecting, and growing through service while applying classroom concepts.

Meg Smith, Cowley College’s director of mass communications, will lead the ACES scholarship students in the interim. For more information on the ACES program, contact 620-441-5287.

Rama Peroo | Director of Institutional Communication
Cowley College
125 S. 2nd Street
Arkansas City, KS 67005