Charles Wolf, Jr. was an economist who spent more than 60 years at RAND and was the founding dean of what is now the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He and his wife, Theresa, included a $1 million bequest in their estate plans to support the school and its students. It’s a commitment his son Tim plans to carry forward.
March 7, 2020
Tim Wolf remembers going into the office with his father, punching numbers into a calculator to keep himself busy. They weren’t just random digits, though; his father had him working on data on foreign aid to South America.
His father was the late Charles Wolf, Jr., a researcher and economist who spent more than 60 years at RAND. He is widely recognized as one of the intellectual founders of modern policy analysis. His work on the costs of the Soviet empire was so insightful that even the Soviets read it.
Charles Wolf was also the founding dean of the graduate school at RAND—now known as the Pardee RAND Graduate School—which he led for nearly 30 years and remained committed to as a philanthropist. He and his wife, Theresa, included a $1 million bequest in their estate plans to support the school and its students. It’s a commitment his son plans to carry forward.
“I want to stay connected because the research ventures and innovations that RAND pursues are significant,” said Tim Wolf, president of the investment firm Wolf Interests and former chief integration officer of MillerCoors Brewing Company.
“RAND and Pardee RAND were important to my father, and I think we’ll all agree they continue to be important,” he said. “Especially in this world where facts seem to matter less and louder voices seem to carry the day.”
His father came to RAND in 1955. His early work focused on Soviet economics; he correctly predicted that economic exhaustion and ethnic dissension would eventually topple the Soviet Union. He also was one of the first economists to anticipate the economic rise of postwar South Korea.
In 1970, Charles Wolf successfully argued for RAND to establish a graduate school in policy analysis. Even after he stepped down as dean, he continued to support the school as a donor and advisor. When the school introduced the slogan “Be the Answer,” he expanded on it: “Before one can Be the Answer,” he wrote, “they must first ask the question.”
Wolf published nearly 300 academic papers and more than a dozen books. He worked almost until his death in October 2016. His last report, published just months before his death, described how the United States and China could hammer out a win–win future if both made some concessions.
He and Theresa supported RAND and Pardee RAND, in part, through the Legacy Society, a group of donors who have included the organization in their estate plans. Their $1 million bequest will help Pardee RAND attract top students and reimagine what it takes to develop good policy in the 21st century.
As much as anyone, Charles Wolf represents RAND’s past; his son said he wants to represent its future. Tim Wolf said he plans to carry on the family commitment, whether that means promoting RAND or ensuring its graduate school can continue to fulfill his father’s vision.
“RAND is a very, very unique organization with an amazing collection of very talented people who are all about improving policy and moving substantive analytics further,” he said. “Adding substance, fact, insight, acumen. That is especially important right now, when people who speak with the loudest voice—not necessarily the smartest voice—may be followed more than they should be.”
He points especially to the daily headlines about Russia and North Korea. “RAND provides that historical and substantive perspective; you sure don’t get that in the national discourse. But they’re the same kinds of issues that my father was thinking about.”