The Catholic University of America

Mimi Schuttloffel, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Education

Where are you from?

My hometown is Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. But my husband and I have lived in eleven cities in 8 states.

Educational background

I have an undergraduate degree in elementary education and secondary education and a major in French from the College of St. Teresa, Winona, MN. It was a women’s college operated by Franciscans, now closed. My MA is in school counseling from the University of Tulsa. My Ph.D. is also from the University of Tulsa in Educational Administration and Research. My specialty areas were leadership and policy.

Your discipline/research and accomplishments

My research interests include reflective practice in leadership, Catholic identity, the transformation of educational beliefs and practice including school change through innovative methodologies such as service learning and technology.

My major contribution is the development of the concept of contemplative practice for school leaders that integrates leadership, decision making and Catholic identity.

I have 35 years of experience as an educator in public and private schools located in rural, urban and suburban settings.  I have been a teacher, a school counselor, and an elementary school (Pre-K-8) principal.  I am pleased to say that I have taught every grade from preschool through graduate school.

One of my proudest accomplishments was to receive an alumna leadership award from my undergraduate college alumnae association.

Obstacles to overcome along the way?

Most of my obstacles have been typical of my age group. We really weren’t raised to be career oriented. I was the first in my extended family to graduate from college. My education was considered a safety net in case something happened to my husband. Being a woman and being ambitious in a career was not typical. Fortunately I had the benefit of strong role models and mentors.

Mentors/Role models who encouraged you

My grandmother was hugely influential for me. She was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse. She was a very strong woman and wanted me to “go for it” in everything I did. My mother was also a role model as she was a single mother who worked outside the home her entire adult life. Many of the religious sisters that taught me were role models because they demonstrated that women could be leaders of institutions. The chair of St. Teresa’s education department mentored me until her death at the age of 94. She was so proud when I came to CUA as she had a degree from Sisters College.

My husband has been a huge support for me. He worked in retail management for 40 years and recognized the skills and attributes that made for a good leader. He was exceptionally courageous to open doors for me to conduct studies of his colleagues and corporate supervisors. I always say that he is best women’s advocate I know because he helped many women climb the corporate ladder.

What do you do for fun in leisure time?

I love to travel. I have had the opportunity to travel a great deal with my work and with my family. I enjoy cultural adventures especially meeting new people. The search for cultural adventure has been credited for bringing my husband and me together. When we met he was a Papal Volunteer recovering from 3 years in Amazonia, Brazil in the 60’s while I was a wide-eyed French student exiled from Paris. When we didn’t have much money, we camped. Our sons had been to 47 states and 6 foreign countries by the time they graduated high school.

The other great attraction of travel is food. I love to eat everything!

Last, but not least, my grandchildren are a #1 priority for my leisure time. We have two wonderful adult sons (and a daughter-in-law), but the grandchildren are in a league of their own.