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EDITORIAL: Friedman elevated PVCC

EDITORIAL: Friedman elevated PVCC

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Frank Friedman has compiled an illustrious record as president of Piedmont Virginia Community College.

We’ll be sorry to see him retire (though he’s earned it), but are reassured that he leaves the college in first-rate shape.

Friedman announced last week that he would step down at the end of the current school year, May 2022.

That timing will give state officials plenty of time to find a successor.

“Frank has been an outstanding president, always seeing our mission in the best interest of our students,” Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said in a prepared statement. “He has fought hard and often to secure financial resources for the faculty and staff at Piedmont.”

That work has led to some impressive statistical evidence of accomplishment.

During Friedman’s tenure, PVCC’s enrollment grew by 25%, while the number of annual graduates rose even more spectacularly: 400%, from 300 graduates to 1,200.

PVCC has always been responsive to the changing needs of students and the emerging opportunities of the economy. That accelerated under Friedman’s guidance. New programs included licensed practical nursing and paramedic, radiography, sonography and surgical technology in the health-care field. New technology programs brought online included engineering, cybersecurity, computer science and advanced manufacturing.

Other additions included culinary arts, enology, viticulture, welding and truck driving.

Meanwhile, enrollment doubled in the existing program for registered nursing.

The college also grew physically, with new buildings on the main campus and elsewhere, including the Eugene Giuseppe Center in Greene County. In addition, PVCC rented space at locations owned and operated by other entities, including the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

All of these initiatives allowed PVCC to expand its reach, serve more students and maximize its impact.

PVCC also became more responsive to social concerns.

Back in 2011, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce’s produced the Orange Dot report, documenting that 29% of Charlottesville residents did not earn enough to provide basic needs, including child care and transportation to work.

The report led to the Chamber’s creation of the Charlottesville Works Initiative to address issues found in the report.

In 2015, a follow-up study showed that 17% of combined Charlottesville and Albemarle County families — more than 5,000 of them — were not earning enough to be self-sufficient.

Around this time, PVCC created its Division of Community Self-Sufficiency Programs to help address problems of self-sufficiency as related to education. In 2016, the college and the Chamber decided to collaborate on the Charlottesville Works Initiative.

The following year, PVCC’s Division of Community Self-Sufficiency Programs launched its Network2Network initiative to help students find potential employers who would pay at least $25,000 a year. Network2Network also provides practical advice and assistance with such basics as child care and transportation.

Meanwhile, Friedman was working with the University of Virginia to help ensure a seamless transition from the college to the university for those students planning to transfer. The two also collaborated on a scholarship program to help students make that transfer happen financially.

These are ambitious goals and significant accomplishments for a community college.

Of course, the days when community colleges were considered second-class citizens compared to their university cousins is long gone — or should be.

But even in the new era of community colleges’ increased might and muscle, PVCC’s record is remarkable.

That’s due to Friedman’s leadership.

Of course, he would credit his colleagues.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as president of PVCC,” he said in a statement. “I have worked with the finest, most dedicated faculty and staff you will find anywhere.”

Amen to that.

The state’s community college governing board will conduct a nationwide search to fill Friedman’s position. We hope that search produces the next great president of PVCC.

—The Daily Progress

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