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January 26, 2014 at 7:30 PM

UW-Tacoma Chancellor Debra Friedman, a passionate advocate of urban education, dies of cancer

University of Washington-Tacoma Chancellor Debra Friedman has died of lung cancer. She was 58.

Friedman had announced three weeks ago she was curtailing her duties as chancellor after being diagnosed because the radiation and chemotherapy were taking their toll and forcing her to limit her activities. On Friday, the school announced she was taking full medical leave.

University of Washington President Mike Young said she died early Sunday with her family gathered around.

Young and  other UW officials announced her passing  on the school’s Web  page, where they praised  the leadership and community-building skills she  demonstrated  since returning to Washington in 2011. Friedman is a Seattle native who earned two graduate degrees in sociology from the UW, where she also worked as an educator and administrator.

“Chancellor Friedman was a true daughter of the University of Washington,” Young said. Friedman was praised  as  a passionate educator who brought “into sharp focus an identity for  UW Tacoma as an urban-serving campus.

‘That identity and investment is rooted in her unyielding passion: the transformational impact of education,” the statement said. “In those two-and-a-half years, she became a key leader in the South Sound region.”

Memory books for students to record their thoughts will be available through Jan. 31 around campus and the faculty and staff can participate in grief counseling Tuesday at Philip Hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Vice chancellors Harlan Patterson and  J.W. Harrington said Friedman “has given us at UW Tacoma a fantastic gift of vision, identity and momentum” and said a formal  memorial service will be scheduled in the next few weeks.

Before returning to Washington in 2011, Friedman spent six years at Arizona State University.  She served as dean of the College of Public Programs at ASU and was later named vice president in charge of the school’s downtown Phoenix campus, an annex of the main campus in Tempe, Ariz.

She worked at the UW from 1994 to 2005 in a variety of capacities, including as assistant dean and associate dean of undergraduate education, associate provost for academic planning and director of special projects in development and alumni relations.

Her daughter,  Eliana, graduated from UW in 2006 as a Rhodes Scholar.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Debra Friedman, Tacoma, University of Washington

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