SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Pennsylvania's new acting Secretary of Health Michael Wolf is a 1988 Slippery Rock University political science graduate who credits his time at The Rock with directly helping him achieve his latest career promotion.
"I have nothing but good things to say about my four years at Slippery Rock. As a student, I really enjoyed my time," he said in a telephone interview from his Harrisburg office. "Slippery Rock University is a wonderful institution and a great place for learning."
As secretary, Wolf is the commonwealth's top health regulator. He is responsible for carrying out the health department's mission to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent injury and disease and to assure the safe delivery of quality health care for all Pennsylvania citizens. The cabinet-level post reports directly to the governor.
Wolf said he still distinctly remembers some of the SRU political science faculty, including Richard Martin, who is now in his 33rd year of teaching at SRU. "He was fantastic. Much of what I learned in political science was in his classes. He really helped me in building my career," Wolf said.
"I think the most important thing I learned at SRU was that I learned a lot about how to learn, and I learned what I wanted to do to move forward in my career. It was a great place for me to go to college, and even today, I am very happy with my decision," he said.
In addition to being a student and graduate at SRU, Wolf was a member of the SRU Council of Trustees serving from 1995-2000.
"As a trustee I found it a fascinating experience to learn the other side of the University, its operations and how a University truly functions. As a student you are just that, a student. Your principle concern is do I want to take an 8:30 or 9:40 class. As a trustee, I found it was much more holistic in learning how to make a university operate and run successfully," he said.
"My new post," Wolf said, "is something that is new to me and I am looking toward the success of the department. One of our prime responsibilities is to protect the public health in the state of Pennsylvania and we take that very seriously. I am looking at how we engage more technology in providing access to the cities for health care and making sure that the health care they receive at hospitals and nursing homes is top quality."
"I am looking at what the health care arena will provide in the next several years," he said.
Gov. Tom Corbett appointed Wolf to the position earlier this week following the resignation of Secretary Eli Avila.
As secretary, he sets overall policy and direction; defines the department's mission; establishes strategic goals; outlines specific objectives; and prepares annual budgets for submission to the governor.
He also identifies priorities and accountability in fiscal matters; proposes initiatives to further department objectives; and represents the department and the administration before other state agencies, the legislature, professional organizations, the health industry, community and stakeholder groups, consumers and the general public.
The secretary is the chief executive officer of the department, directing the Office of the Executive Deputy Secretary, Physician General, Policy Office, Legislative Liaison Office, Communications Office and Chief Counsel. He also oversees the actions of four deputies and the bureaus within their areas, including quality assurance, health planning and assessment, promotion and disease prevention and administration. He is also a member of a long list of health-related committees and organizations.
In addition to his work at the department of health, Wolf has served as director of worldwide public affairs and policy in Pennsylvania for Pfizer Inc., the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company.
His government work has included serving as a government relations and company development consultant to the Central Pennsylvania Life Sciences Greenhouse, an early-stage, venture capital company specializing in start-up biotech companies.
Wolf served eight years in the Tom Ridge administration, including work as deputy secretary for the Office of International Business Development, where he worked as principal strategist and spokesman for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania's international efforts.
He earned his masters in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.