Vice chancellor for public affairs to leave WU after fall semester

| News Editor

Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Jill Friedman will leave her position at Washington University, Dec. 31.

Photo courtesy of The Source

After Friedman joined the Washington University in 2012, she spent the next seven and a half years building the University’s brand through working on a variety of initiatives, including the 2016 Presidential Debate, the Leading Together fundraising campaign and Chancellor Martin’s transition. In 2015, Friedman also coordinated the University’s public response to the unrest in Ferguson, which earned the University a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America.

Friedman credits many of these accomplishments during her time at the University to the work of her team at the Office of Public Affairs.

“The team has just done exceptional work over the years…especially through our thought leadership and scholarship and just the absolutely strikingly beautiful and compelling presentation of the university narrative through web, Wash. U. media, photography, video, creative and written word,” Friedman said.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Wild commended Friedman for managing to coordinate the many different departments and offices within the University.

“What’s always a challenge for anybody in that role at a university like Wash. U. is that we are so decentralized and she has to basically be a sales person to convince every dean, every department head, everybody who thinks they want to make their own office have its own message,” Wild said. “[It] is very serious because when you’re not on brand you look really sloppy as a university to the outside world.”

Associate Dean of Academic Planning and Strategic Initiatives Ebba Segerberg, who frequently works with Friedman, agreed that interdepartmental collaboration has been a major priority for Friedman during her time at the University.

“As someone based in Arts & Sciences, one of the things I have valued is the fact that she has encouraged an ethos of collaboration across the different schools, both in how we relate to Public Affairs and to each other,” Segerberg wrote in a statement to Student Life. “I think I collaborate more closely now with some of my colleagues in other schools than I would have if she hadn’t prioritized building those relationships.”

After the “capstone” of Martin’s inauguration in October, Friedman felt confident enough in the University’s path going forward to leave her position and move on to something new.

“This was the right time for a change for me, and I was very committed to staying through the entirety of Chancellor Martin’s transition,” Friedman said. “And this is just a really appropriate time to think about my next step and to make room for a strong leader at public affairs.”

Friedman has no concrete plans for work after leaving the University, but hopes to find time to rest before moving on to new employment.

“Well, the first thing I’m going to do is take a little bit of time to recharge my battery,” Friedman said. “I have no doubt that the next step will continue to involve mission-oriented work that is something that is inspiring and important to me.”

Associate Vice Chancellor for University Communications Julie Hail Flory will serve as interim vice chancellor for public affairs while a search committee examines possible candidates to fill Friedman’s position. Regardless of the committee’s decision, Friedman is confident that she will leave behind a strong team at the Office of Public Affairs.

“She has recruited a lot of talented people over the years,” Segerberg wrote. “Public Affairs was already a strong operation when she took over, but she has been a great steward of that talent and leaves an excellent team of people in place.”

Friedman hopes that the candidate chosen by the search committee will continue building a top-notch team, and offered some advice to her future successor.

“Wake up every morning as I have, inspired by this incredible place and this incredible team,” Friedman said. “Lean into the strengths at public affairs, challenge the team to continue to grow and do great work, have confidence in them and lead by example.”

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