MILWAUKEE – Eileen Mihm Schwalbach, president of Mount Mary University, is stepping down at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.


Eileen Mihm Schwalbach (Submitted photo)

In an interview with the Catholic Herald she explained why she is using the term “stepping down.”

“I chose not to use ‘retirement,” she said. “There may be some ways for me to serve Mount Mary.”

During the 14 months she has remaining as president, Schwalbach said she has time to figure out what she will do next, which might be as a community volunteer or “something in education.”

“God has called me to Mount Mary; God will call me to something else,” she said, noting she has been thinking about and praying about stepping down “for a few years.”

Schwalbach, 66, has worked in education for 43 years – 25 with Milwaukee Public Schools and 18 at Mount Mary, including the last eight as president.

During her presidency, she presided over the school’s 2012 transition from a college to university which, according to a release from the school, reflected “the breadth of the institution’s bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs, including its emphasis on research on teaching and learning.”

Other highlights of her tenure include:

  • overseeing a strategic planning process that resulted in the Creative Campus Initiative with its emphasis on creative leadership skills;
  • establishment, in 2011, of the school’s first doctorate – and the first doctorate in the country – in art therapy; and
  • seeing the university’s endowment increase by $15 million
  • university moved up more than 20 places — to No. 75 in 2015 — in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of private universities, and also saw a 50 percent increase in the number of freshman applicants;
  • upgrading campus facilities, including renovation of the first floor of the Haggerty Library in order to house a Student Success Center and Learning Commons with facilities for academic resources, career advising and student counseling, as well as a new computer lab. Other upgrades included additional electronic classrooms, as well as enhanced spaces in the dining hall and grill.

Schwalbach said it was an “honor to lead a Catholic university founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.”

“I was educated by them at St. Augustine in Bay View,” she said, adding that her parents had been educated by the Notre Dame Sisters in the Mount Calvary area. “I was told it was in my DNA.”

In the release announcing her departure, School Sister of Notre Dame Mary Anne Owens, provincial leader of the Central Pacific Province of the order, called Schwalbach “an outstanding leader for Mount Mary University.”

“She has devoted her heart and soul to this institution, and her deep respect for faculty, administration, staff and students is obvious. She has worked to lift them up in every way she can,” Sr. Mary Anne said. “That commitment is so very much a part of the SSND educational philosophy and she has always seen it as a sacred trust.”

Schwalbach holds an undergraduate degree in English from Marquette University, a master’s in English and a doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She received a certificate from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management in 2005 and completed the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in 2009.

The university’s board of directors will undertake a national search for Schwalbach’s successor.