David Wolf, PhD

Co-Founder of the Campaign for College Opportunity

“His entire life he fought to ensure that more students could go to college, and in retirement he didn’t stop. Hundreds of thousands of students have benefited from directly from his advocacy.”
– President Michele Siqueiros

Read his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle

To visit David’s memorial page, click here


David Benjamin Wolf was born in Dayton, Ohio on August 6, 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, taking a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1965, and a MA in Economics in 1966. After wisely marrying Ruth in 1965, they both served in the US Peace Corps in Malaysia, returning to the San Francisco Bay area in 1968. After working in corporate industry, David attended Stanford University, completing a PhD in Education in 1984.

His career in education began with teaching part-time at City College of San Francisco in 1971, then serving as a Washington Intern in Education in 1972-73. Consulting and then administrative positions with the Los Angeles Community College District extended from 1973 to 1988. During this time he held positions at Mission, West, Metropolitan, Harbor and Pierce colleges, as well as posts at the district level. At West, Metropolitan and Pierce he served as president. David served as Academic Vice President at Santa Rosa Junior College, 1988-1991, and then Provost for the California Maritime Academy, 1992-1996.

In 1996 David became Executive Director of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, from which he retired in July, 2001. In this capacity he served as chair of the Council for Regional Accrediting Commissions, and as Administrative Officer for the Community College Leadership Development Initiative.

After retiring in 2001, state neglect led David and his colleague, the late Steve Weiner, to become active in preserving higher education access in California; they founded the Campaign for College Opportunity on whose Board he now serves. Weiner and Wolf later created Common Sense California (2004), and more recently the Endowment for California Leadership (2008). David served on the Sonoma County Board of Education (from 2002 through 2010), he was an international member of the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (2003-2011), and a public member of the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (2007-2011). From 2010-2014 he was a member of the Board of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change, and in 2011 became a member of the Accreditation Review Committee for the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment of Saudi Arabia.

David had always been proud of his association with the nation’s community colleges and was particularly interested in the enhancement of the preparation and support of the trustees, faculty, staff and administrative leaders whose minds are so central to the continued vitality of this American asset.

David is survived by his wife Ruth and their two sons, Ben and Eric.