Wolff retiring from GFCMSU

Great Falls College MSU CEO/Dean Dr. Susan Wolff announced her retirement effective June 30, 2021 during the college’s executive team meeting on Oct. 19.

Wolff, who will be 70 in December, came to Great Falls College MSU in 2012 from Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore., after having worked at another community college in Oregon, one in the state of Washington and at Oregon State University on three different occasions. She also had her own business, Wolff Designs, after earning her doctorate degree from Oregon State University, according to a GFCMSU release.

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Wolff grew up on the Johnson Tuning Fork ranch outside Hall in western Montana and attended Drummond High School before getting a home economics degree from MSU. She eventually earned advanced degrees in educational leadership and community college leadership from Oregon State University.

“Throughout her career, she has been passionate about the two-year college mission, community and economic development by providing students the chance to find their vocation in high-wage, high-demand job fields or prepare them to transfer to four-year institutions,” according to a release.

Wolff has been recognized by industry and others for her efforts and developing new programs such as the renewable energy technology program at Columbia Gorge Community College, the third in the country and first west of the Mississippi. She did this work because the wind companies were importing workers from out of state when Oregonians needed good-paying jobs, according to a release. In Great Falls, she was part of the team that worked to bring ADF International to town.

“I connect deeply with this mission and am so proud of the work we do here,” Wolff said in a release. “Our students, faculty and staff do amazing things on a daily basis.”

She also came back to Montana to spend time with her mother, Christine Johnson, who passed away in January just two months short of being 99 years old. Wolff plans to stay in Great Falls, where she serves on numerous boards and is active in Rotary and other community organizations, according to the college’s release.

“I know there are things I will continue to be involved with to create a vibrant community, but I want to travel, drive more back roads, write, take photos and spend time with family,” she said in a release.

Wolff said she’s confident in the future of GFCMSU, which has built a dental clinic so it can accept 25 dental hygiene students into the program each year instead of 18. The college is also piloting the OneMSU Workforce Consortium by expanding their respiratory therapy program into eastern and southwestern Montana.

The dental clinic addition received $4.25 million with bipartisan support from the 2019 Legislature.

While her tenure with Great Falls College ends June 30, 2021, she said she will return in July to personally sign all of the diplomas after spring semester, as she has done twice a year while at Great Falls College, after the registrar’s office processes them, according to the college’s release.

“I have had the privilege of walking alongside our students, faculty and staff. One way to honor our students for the work they have done and the money they have spent is to take the time and to think of each one of them. They deserve a personal signature,” she said in a release. “It means a lot to me. It hasn’t really hit me that I will be done after 45 years in higher education, but I imagine it will when I’m signing the diplomas and thinking about the futures of those graduates and all of the opportunities in front of them. I hope they are all as fortunate as I have been. My career has always been about providing opportunities for others, a trait I learned from my parents.”