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Edward J. Wolff: A teacher of presidents
English professor is awarded emeritus status

UDM President Maureen A. Fay, O.P., stands between Professor Emeritus Ed Wolff and his wife Margaret Pigott.

After teaching at the University of Detroit Mercy for more than 50 years, Edward J. Wolff ’52, never expected to be surprised by anything. But this past April, upon being honored as Professor Emeritus during the University’s annual President’s Convocation, the former English professor learned that “back in the day” he taught an English literature course on Geoffrey Chaucer to UDM President Maureen A. Fay. O.P.

He was relieved to also learn that she earned an “A” in the course. “Had I been able to look into the future,” Wolff says with a smile, “I would have given her an “A+.” President Fay, who will retire from the University at the end of the academic year, was Wolff’s student at the University of Detroit in 1962 when she was working toward a Master of Arts in English.

Wolff, who retired from UDM last year, joined the University of Detroit full time in 1952. He taught courses on the Middle Ages, including Chaucer, English, French and German medieval romances, as well as the English Renaissance, Shakespeare, classical and modern drama and fiction. He headed the University Honors Program in its first years and was instrumental in promulgating and establishing the post of Student Dean of Honors—the first such in the country and one that continues successfully today. He also started the summer study abroad program in 1975, which takes students to Oxford, England. He continues to run the program, which is co-sponsored by Oakland University.

Retirement apparently does not mean rest for Wolff. He continues to teach at UDM part-time and is currently helping to examine and re-structure the University’s Writing Program, the purpose of which, Wolff explains, “is to establish fair and uniform grading standards amid the on-going controversy over alleged national grade inflation in education.”