Throughout her career, Janice Friedel has studied the impact community colleges have had and why they’re vital to local economies. Friedel is a leading expert on community colleges at Iowa State University.
Friedel’s work shows importance of community colleges
Janice Friedel knows the important role community colleges play in local economic development.
Besides helping first-time students gain access to higher education, community colleges provide vocational education, offer transfer programs to four-year universities, and provide community education, Friedel said.
“Community colleges have emerged as engines of economic development and provide comprehensive education to students,” Friedel said. “They meet the needs of the local economy by providing training that’s needed the most.”
Friedel, an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies (ELPS) at Iowa State University, teaches several higher education courses to prepare future community college leaders.
Friedel has extensive experience with community colleges. During her career, she served in several leadership positions for Scott Community College in Davenport and later for Eastern Iowa Community College.
Friedel then served as president of Lexington Community College in Kentucky. She returned to Iowa and worked as administrator of the community colleges and workforce preparation division of the Iowa Department of Education.
She then went to California State University, Northridge, and worked as a professor of educational leadership and policy studies where she developed partnerships with the local community colleges. Although she came to Iowa State in August 2011, she previously worked for the College of Human Sciences from 1997 to 2007, teaching higher education and policy studies.
Friedel’s research in areas such as higher education public policy, community college leadership development, community college mission and governance, career and technical education, and economic benefits of community college attendance also make her a go-to person for community college issues.
Earlier this year, she went to the Career and Technical Education Summit: “Imagine Careers through Education” in Guam with Frankie Laanan, Iowa State University associate professor of ELPS. The summit discussed ways to prepare students for future career successes while they’re in high school.
“They had a frank and open discussion about the preparedness of Guam’s workforce and what they’re doing to help prepare students entering the workforce,” Friedel said. “The challenges they face are similar to the problems faced in the U.S., such as low graduation rates, poverty issues, and access to technology.”
Friedel and Laanan spoke about the community college’s role in building a local economy’s workforce. Guam’s leaders want students to transition smoothly from high school to community college. They want the community colleges to provide the necessary training to meet the needs of the local economy.
Friedel also co-authored a report with Linda Serra Hagedorn, Iowa State professor of ELPS, and three other professors outside of Iowa State that analyzes problems with potential cuts to the Pell grant system and how those cuts would impact rural community colleges.
The report, “Pell Grants and the Lifting of Rural America’s Future,” indicated that reduction in Pell grant funding could have a major impact on student access to college. Previous cuts already caused decreased enrollment and educators who were surveyed feared that additional cuts would prevent students from finishing college.
Friedel also discussed the report’s finding earlier this year during a Rural Community College Alliance meeting in Washington, D.C.
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