Frank Friedman, who has led Piedmont Virginia Community College for more than 20 years, announced Wednesday that he will step down as president at the end of the coming school year.
Friedman, who took the reins in 1999, is PVCC’s fifth president since the college was created in 1972. He made the announcement to faculty and staff during the school’s annual meeting to kick off the school year.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as president of PVCC. I have worked with the finest, most dedicated faculty and staff you will find anywhere,” Friedman said in a prepared statement. “I am so proud that in the 23 years I have been president, over 150,000 students have received an accessible, affordable, high-quality education at PVCC.”
Friedman was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
The state board that oversees community colleges and PVCC’s board will conduct a national search to find Friedman’s replacement.
“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.”
Friedman led the school during the COVID-19 pandemic that required quick shifts from classrooms to virtual rooms and changes in policies and procedures.
He also spearheaded PVCC4U.100%, a program to cover tuition and fees for this school year for students with family income of $100,000 or less or who were laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19.
During Friedman’s tenure, PVCC’s enrollment grew by 25% and the number of annual graduates rose from 300 to 1,200. The school added programs, including licensed practical nursing and paramedic, radiography, sonography and surgical technology. Enrollment in the registered nurse program at the school doubled.
New technology programs brought online at PVCC include engineering, cybersecurity, computer science and advanced manufacturing. New programs in culinary arts, enology, viticulture, welding and truck driving also proved successful.
“After many years at the helm of PVCC, Frank’s passion for accessible, affordable, quality education is still infectious,” said Elizabeth Cromwell, president and CEO of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. Friedman has served on the chamber board for several years and is a past chairman of the executive board.
“The chamber considers PVCC a crucial asset for the business community, and many of the programs developed under Frank’s leadership have been instrumental in expanding our workforce and regional economic growth,” Cromwell said.
During the Friedman era, Piedmont also grew physically. The school turned the former Monticello Visitors Center into the Stultz Center for Business and Career Development. It built the Theodore E. and Patt Hart Keats Science Building and the Advanced Technology and Student Success Center.
PVCC also leased space at the Jefferson School City Center and the IX Building in Charlottesville and leased and built the Eugene Giuseppe Center in Stanardsville.
Friedman supported efforts to provide financial backing to students and those in the community through the Network2Work anti-poverty program. The program grew from the Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Orange Dot report, which found that 29% of Charlottesville residents did not earn enough to provide basic needs, including child care and transportation to work.
The chamber created the Charlottesville Works Initiative to address issues found in the report and hired Ridge Schuyler, the report’s author, to head the effort. Schuyler and the effort were later brought into PVCC through Friedman.
“He is truly passionate about this community and the fact that he’s worked so many years in the community college system is completely appropriate: His concern is with the community and the success of the students that he serves,” said Schuyler.
“When he looked at Charlottesville Works, he said that it was really something a community college would be in a position to do,” he said. “That’s when [Friedman] created the division of self-sufficiency programs at PVCC.”
The PVCC program has since been adopted and expanded statewide by Gov. Ralph Northam.
Friedman also worked on behalf of children who have yet to enter school. As a board member of the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, he has been involved in the charity’s preschool programs for those less advantaged.
“He joined our board in 2001 and, as an educator, his main thrust with us was helping build our early education efforts,” said Ravi Respeto, president of the local United Way. “A lot of the work he did on our board was helping with grant-making decisions on organizations involved in early education. He helped decide how we allocated funds to organizations that were making sure children were ready to learn when getting to kindergarten.”
Respeto said Friedman also impacted the United Way’s efforts to help residents to gain financial stability and workforce training.
Friedman worked with the University of Virginia to turn a donor’s $5 million gift into a $9.5 million scholarship for students transferring from PVCC and the creation of an inter-college liaison to help shepherd students wanting to transfer.
The Piedmont Scholars program will provide scholarships to 25 PVCC students who graduate with associate’s degrees and transfer to UVa. The scholarships are part of the University Achievement Award program.
“Frank is a very innovative and effective leader who has served our community better than well for many years,” said Charles Rotgin Jr., of Great Eastern Management Co. Rotgin has served with Friedman on the chamber’s board of directors. “We have been fortunate to have had him in many leadership roles in addition to his PVCC responsibilities, and his competence will be both remembered and missed.”