Dave Wolk has led intertwined careers in education and government leadership for 46 years.
In addition to the unbridled joy of his family and friends, he likes to help leaders get better at what they do, and he enjoys being called upon to fix things, especially enterprises that enhance the human condition.
He served as a guidance counselor and teacher at Mt. St. Joseph Academy, academic dean at the St. Sebastian’s School, principal of Barstow Memorial School, principal of Rutland High School, superintendent of schools in Rutland City (with a one year return engagement in 2019) and Vermont’s Commissioner of Education.
His government service included four years as a Vermont state senator and service as Governor Howard Dean’s chief of policy.
He began his Presidency at what later became Castleton University in 2001, and was the longest serving President in Castleton’s history, culminating in his first failed retirement in December 2017. At Castleton he led increased involvement by the university in the local community and expanded commitment to civic engagement, sustainability, inclusivity and service learning.
University infrastructure improvements during his tenure totaled more than $80 million, including the construction of new residence halls, fitness centers, athletic facilities, the completion of the Castleton Pavilion, and the purchase and renovation of the Spartan Arena in Rutland Town, offering recreational and cultural opportunities to the broader region.
Wolk led the inauguration and execution of the Castleton Plan, a strategic plan and blueprint for the university. Highlighted by new and enhanced graduate programs, the plan included incremental enrollment growth, a focus on international enrollment, and increased opportunities for students in Rutland through entrepreneurial ventures such as the Castleton Downtown Gallery, the Castleton Polling Institute and Castleton Downtown, which was home to the Center for Community Engagement, Center for Entrepreneurial Programs, and Center for Schools.
Wolk also spearheaded the expansion of Division III intercollegiate athletics, creating one of the most extensive, high quality public college athletic programs in the country while improving and creating new athletic facilities for the students and the community. All of these endeavors further enhanced the quality of a Castleton education while contributing to economic and community development in the greater Rutland region and throughout Vermont.
In July of 2015, Wolk headed the modernization of the Castleton name as he led the school to achieving university status, representing many years of growth along with aspirations of a bright future. When he retired from Castleton University in 2017 the Board of Trustees unanimously and gratefully renamed Spartan Stadium the Dave Wolk Stadium.
He has dedicated his life to public service.
He was born and grew up in Rutland. He graduated from Rutland High School and then Middlebury College with a degree in political science. He earned a master’s degree in educational administration and planning at UVM and a certificate of advanced graduate study at Harvard University. During his professional career he served on more than 40 state and national boards and commissions, including twelve years as a member and later Chairman of the Board of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and currently serves as a member of the boards of Green Mountain Power and Prevent Child Abuse Vermont while providing leadership mentoring and coaching and executive searches in the public and private sector. He is married to Lyn Wolk, a professional mediator/conflict resolution and HR expert now leading a new pilot program at Rutland Mental Health Services, and together they enjoy seven children and seven grandchildren.