He taught classics and comparative literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at Yale University. He was also the Executive Dean of Letters and Science and Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. Hexter assumed the Hampshire College presidency on August 1, 2005, a post he relinquished on December 31, 2010.
He has been involved with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, Phi Beta Kappa, the American Philological Association, and the National Conference for Community and Justice.
On August 2, 2010, Hexter announced his resignation as president of Hampshire. On August 20, Hampshire College announced that Marlene Gerber Fried would serve as acting president and that Hexter would be on sabbatical beginning on September 1.
On November 22, 2010, it was announced that Ralph Hexter would be the next Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California, Davis, effective January 1, 2011. His faculty title is Distinguished Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature.
- Equivocal Oaths and Ordeals in Medieval Literature, by Ralph J. Hexter, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975.
- Ovid and Medieval Schooling: Studies in Medieval School Commentaries on Ovid's Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, and Epistulae Heroidum, by Ralph J. Hexter, Munich: Arbeo-Gesellschaft, 1986.
- Innovations of Antiquity, edited by Ralph Hexter and Daniel Selden, New York: Routledge, 1992.
- A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald, by Ralph J. Hexter, New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
- The Faith of Achates: Finding Aeneas' Other, by Ralph J. Hexter, Berkeley, CA: Doe Library, University of California, 1997.
The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature, edited by Ralph J. Hexter and David Townsend. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Hampshire College biography
- Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts biography
- Berkeley webpage
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Inside Higher Ed interview
- Hampshire College, Marlene Gerber Fried to be Acting Hampshire College President 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter via University of California, Davis