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Former dean of the College of Public Programs, university vice president passes away at age of 58

The College mourns the loss of former Dean Debra Friedman. We send our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.
Former dean of the College of Public Programs, university vice president passes away at age of 58

Debra Friedman, 1955-2014

University of Washington Tacoma Chancellor and former Dean of Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs Debra Friedman passed away Sunday at the age of 58 after succumbing to lung cancer.

Friedman was appointed to serve as the college’s dean in 2005 and in 2008 was named Downtown Phoenix campus vice president. She was known for her passion in connecting universities to their urban landscape and improving access to education for students.

During her tenure at ASU as dean, Friedman helped the College achieve the highest retention rate of any college in the University, attracted the most diverse student body at ASU, and led the College to some of its highest ever rankings among public service institutions in the country. She also oversaw the development of the college’s Spirit of Service Scholars program, a scholarship effort that she saw as a call for a new generation of public servants.

“This initiative allows us to support the most compassionate— and the most talented and educated—who will become the leaders of tomorrow,” Friedman wrote in a 2009 op-ed highlighting the importance of the program.

In a statement released Sunday night, College of Public Programs Dean Jonathan Koppell wrote, “Debra left an indelible impression on ASU and the City of Phoenix. By virtue of her ability to forge deeply personal connections with a wide range of people, Debra played an enormous role in realizing the vision of ASU as a committed community partner in the heart of a revitalized downtown Phoenix.”

Friedman, who began her career at the University of Washington and then returned there in 2011, was hailed as a “true daughter” of the school, by University of Washington President Mike Young.

“In just two-and-a-half years at UW Tacoma, Debra brought into sharp focus an identity for UW Tacoma as an urban-serving campus, building on the substantial investment the region has always made in its university. That identity and investment is rooted in her unyielding passion: the transformational impact of education — that changes the lives of individuals and the communities of which they are a part. In those two-and-a-half years, she became a key leader in the South Sound region,” Young stated.

Young also added that Friedman, “died peacefully with her family gathered around her.”

Information on memorials and tributes to Friedman will be shared as it becomes available.

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