Friedman’s passion was the impact of education on individuals and entire communities. She focused on expanding UW Tacoma’s reach into the community, partnering with local schools as well as Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Donations in her name may be made to student scholarships at UW Tacoma.
“It is impossible to ignore the tragedy when someone is lost to us who has so much to give; however, we have already benefited immensely from Debra’s lifelong devotion to higher education,” UW President Michael K. Young said. “It is our responsibility now to carry on the great work and momentum that Chancellor Friedman has begun. She has assured that UW Tacoma will continue its critical work as a transformative institution.”
Friedman earned graduate degrees from UW — a master’s in sociology in 1978 and a doctorate in sociology in 1983, and it was during that time that she received an Excellence in Teaching award.
She worked at the UW in various administrative capacities from 1994 to 2005, 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.
After six years at Arizona State University, she returned to the UW as chancellor of UW Tacoma, building on the university’s already strong ties to the South Puget Sound region. She helped create a stronger partnership with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and developed an entrepreneurial program and a cybersecurity graduate degree, all focused on veterans.
In 2.5 years at UW Tacoma, Friedman pushed for expanded access to higher education, expanding the campus with the Tioga Library Building and construction of the University Y Student Center. She also launched Pathways to Promise and Tacoma Whole Child Initiative partnerships with local school districts, to foster a college-bound culture in K-12 schools.
The university is planning a formal memorial event. More information will be posted on the UW Tacoma chancellor’s website.