STEUBENVILLE - Dr. Edward L. Florak, president emeritus of Jefferson Community College, now Eastern Gateway Community College, was chosen by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges for the Terry M. Thomas Friend of Community Colleges Award.
The award, announced during the OACC's annual Excellence Awards Banquet in Columbus, is a singular honor presented "to someone who has had a major, positive impact on community colleges in Ohio."
The award was named in honor of the OACC's founding executive director, who was a champion of higher education, serving the OACC for 14 years. Among his many accomplishments was his work to improve Ohio's articulation and transfer of career-technical coursework and college and university credits; as well as the establishment of the OACC's annual All-Ohio Academic Team Scholarship Recognition Luncheon. After his tenure, Thomas remained committed to higher education, going on to serve as associate vice chancellor for adult workforce development at the Ohio Board of Regents.
Individuals selected to receive this award embody the qualities and characteristics Thomas has demonstrated throughout his years of service, according to the OACC.
Florak served as the college's second president from 1985-1998 and also served the college as assistant to the president/vice president and dean of student and academic affairs and held the rank of professor of general studies. He joined the then Jefferson Technical College in 1971. Also, he is a charter trustee for the Eastern Gateway Community College Foundation Inc.
During his presidency, Jefferson Technical College became Jefferson Community College and moved from quarters to semesters. His leadership was instrumental in accomplishing these strategic moves to align the college with state universities and four-year institutions across the country. His efforts were successful in securing state funds to improve the college's facilities, including a new student lounge, courtyard and computer center, and additions to the health wing.
Florak championed workforce development training in its infancy at the college and lead that charge across the state in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He guided two successful operating levy campaigns in 1986 and 1996.
A long-standing member of the Ohio Technical and Community Colleges Association and then the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, Florak served the former group as vice chairman from 1990 to 1992. He chaired the Ohio Student Loan Commission in 1991.
As president emeritus, Florak served on the exploration committee for the expansion of the college's service district. His guidance was instrumental in the decision to expand from one county to four counties in the service district and the growth into Eastern Gateway Community College.
He served as a two-year representative on the Ohio College Association Executive Committee, served on the board of directors of the Ohio Appalachian Commission on Higher Education and the board of trustees for the Consortium for the Health Education in Appalachia Ohio.
During his retirement, he is providing training sessions and consulting services to business and industry.
In 2008, he served as interim director of Progress Alliance, the economic development organization in Jefferson County. He is a past president of the Jefferson County United Way board and served two separate terms as campaign chairman. He is treasurer of the Community Improvement Corp. He served on the Jefferson County School and Business Partnership and was a member of the Jefferson County Industrial Park Blue Ribbon Committee.
He serves on the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board.
Florak is past president of Steubenville Kiwanis and has held memberships in the American Management Association, American Counseling Association, Ohio Psychological Association and American Psychological Association.
Florak is a licensed psychologist in Ohio and serves as a consultant to the Family Services Association of Steubenville. The association presented him with its service and leadership award in 1996.
He holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Villanova University and a master's degree and doctorate in counselor education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Florak and his wife, Barbara, live in Steubenville and are the parents of three sons, Mike, Mark and Tim. They have two grandchildren.
Also at the banquet, Vincetta Savinell Tsouris, a 1979 EGCC alumnus, was recognized for being nominated for the OACC Distinquished Alumnus Award.