Valerie Njie Retires From Bidwell Training Center After 37 Years
Bidwell Training Center’s (BTC) Executive Director/Senior Vice President Valerie Njie has retired after 37 years of tireless service and dedication to the students, staff, and industries in the Pittsburgh area.
Njie joined BTC in 1981 as a senior counselor when her former University of Pittsburgh classmate Jesse W. Fife Jr., former Executive Vice President and COO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, asked her to come on board. Njie credits Fife, who passed away in 2010, with motivating her to stay so long and succeed in doing the impossible.
“He had such great confidence in you,” said Njie. “He would give you some ridiculous assignment….but then when you did it …he was always thrilled. He always elevated you.”
Njie’s impact started when she put together the proposal and helped facilitate the partnership that led BTC to become a part of IBM’s national information sciences program.
Njie was promoted to executive director in 1999, and her first challenge was getting BTC out of reporting with the Accrediting Commission on Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Fife gave her another seemingly impossible assignment of becoming an ACCSC team leader, a volunteer who visits ACCSC schools and conducts extensive evaluations of the school.
“When he insisted that I become a team leader I said ‘Are you crazy,’” said Njie. “‘That would be so embarrassing. We’re always reporting. How can I go to another school?’”
What seemed like a ridiculous assignment helped change BTC’s course.
“He kept insisting, and I went to the commission in 2000 for training and the light bulb went on that day,” said Njie. “It was incredible because for the first time I really understood what the standards meant.”
The experience as a team leader and her dedication to elevate BTC lead the school to being recognized as a School of Excellence in 2012 and then again for a second consecutive time in 2017.
After Fife’s passing, Njie was motivated to run for a commission seat at the ACCSC, and she won.
Njie assumed leadership of BTC when it had 19 infractions but leaves it as a School of Excellence with an overall graduation rate of 79 percent and an overall job placement rate of 85 percent as reported in BTC’s 2017 annual report to the ACCSC.
In essence, Njie helped turn BTC around in the same way many of its students have turned their lives around when they attend classes at the school. There is no better example for BTC’s students than Njie’s energy, early mornings, late nights, and dedication for 37 years.
“My legacy is that if you’re going to be here you have to be committed,” said Njie.
Njie is currently spending her retirement still committed to education. She continues to volunteer as an ACCSC team leader. In addition, she is serving as president-elect on the board of University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Association.