Ralph A. Wolff
Ralph Wolff joined the staff of the WASC Senior College and University Commission in 1981 and served as its president from 1996 through August 2013. He currently serves as Senior Advisor. The Commission is the regional accrediting body for more than 160 senior colleges and universities in California, Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands that serve more than 1 million students; and has recently expanded its scope to include higher education internationally.
During Mr. Wolff's tenure as president, WASC became recognized globally as a leading innovator in accreditation. He has led revisions to accreditation standards over the past thirty years that have addressed such key issues as the changing ecology of learning, retention and graduation, student learning outcomes, and the changing role of faculty and for-profit institutions; while at the same time developing adaptive processes of accreditation that respect the diversity of institutional missions within the WASC region.
At WASC, Mr. Wolff has been a national proponent for reforming accreditation into an agent of public accountability and quality assurance within the context of dynamically changing environment for higher education. This vision has led to major grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the James A. Irvine Foundation, and most recently from the Lumina and Hewlett foundations.
Before his appointment to WASC, Mr. Wolff was one of the founders of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, DC - the nation's most innovative law school, with its focus on preparing lawyers for public interest and poverty law – and was responsible for helping it achieve accreditation. He later moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to become dean of the Antioch Graduate School of Education, where he oversaw a diverse range of innovative programs in Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, and Colorado. As associate provost of Antioch College, he was responsible for establishing quality assurance systems for its twenty-eight centers. In 1976, he was appointed law professor at the University of Dayton. Prior to joining the staff of WASC, he became involved with accreditation as chair of a number of accreditation evaluation teams for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
The foregoing list of professional accomplishments though extensive is far from complete. Mr. Wolff also founded and for ten years directed the Institute for Creative Thinking, a forum for higher education leaders to explore change in higher education and establish learning organizations. This endeavor was funded in part by grants from AT&T and the James A. Irvine Foundation. He is a member of the University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and served as an evaluator for multiple quality reviews in Hong Kong. In addition, he has published multiple articles and book chapters on accreditation, quality assurance, distance education, and the changing role of the library; and has presented nationally and internationally on these topics. For his service in support of quality assurance and improvement in the WASC region and nationally he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Loma Linda University.