Meet Dean Kathy Schultz

Published: Dec. 5, 2016
Kathy Schultz and family

Kathy Schultz is a few months into her new role as Dean of the CU Boulder School of Education, and everyone wants to know: ‘what’s your vision?’ Dean Schultz has been careful not to prescribe a particular vision at this early stage. Instead, she has been meeting one-on-one with faculty, staff, students, and friends of the school, listening to ideas and exploring possibilities — not surprising coming from someone who published books on listening. 

After working closely with the school’s leadership team for months prior, in August Schultz officially joined us as Dean. Previously, she was Professor and Dean of the School of Education at Mills College, where she formed strong partnerships with schools and communities in Oakland, Calif. Before that, she was a Professor and Director for the Teacher Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where she led the Center for Collaborative Research and Practice in Teacher Education and the Philadelphia Writing Project.

In this Q&A, we attempt to “get to know” Dean Schultz, where she is from, and why she chose the CU Boulder School of Education. Lucky us!

You began your career as an elementary teacher before earning your PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. Tell us a little bit about how you got here to the field of education. 

I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was young. I was one of those children who made my younger sister and her friends play school day after day. I had several assignments in middle school where I was asked to teach my parents a concept. The one I remember was to explain the idea of bases in mathematics. It took my father so long to understand base six that I never forgot the concept—and I realized that I liked the process of teaching.

You have an impressive background and CV. What was it that attracted you to the CU Boulder School of Education? 

There is so much that initially drew me to CU Boulder including the strong reputation of the faculty, students and staff, their lived commitments to social justice and community engagement, the broad reach of the policy work and opportunities to enter into public debates about education—to name just a few aspects of the school. And once I visited, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the people here and their willingness to engage in dialogue and new projects.

Before your deanship at Mills College, you climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with your family. Now, we’ve heard you often climb Boulder’s Mt. Sanitas before breakfast. Besides Colorado’s famous 14ers, what are the steepest hills or obstacles you envision ascending here in Colorado and within the field?

University-based teacher education is under attack at the national level and the number of people going into teaching has declined for a wide array of reasons. Here in Colorado, the severe budget cuts have particularly affected rural districts, which are finding it difficult to attract new teachers. I am committed to working with colleagues within the university and across the country to address this crisis. I am interested in finding ways to work with rural districts to attract and retain talented teachers through working toward more equitable funding, raising money to supplement initial salaries, developing programs to support teacher professional development and several other ideas. I look forward to these challenges. 

When you’re not climbing mountains physically or metaphorically, how do you like to spend your off-the-clock hours? 

I relish the time I get to spend with my three grown children who all currently live on the east coast. I hope to lure them all to Colorado over the winter vacation to ski, hike, and snowshoe. And to cook, read novels, and play games. My dog demands constant walks, which I am happy to provide (especially in the mountains) and my husband is a fantastic cook and political blogger (which means endless conversations about politics.) I love that I can bike to work and walk into town for dinner. 

You’ve met so many friends of the school over a short period of time. What has been your favorite part of “getting to know” Colorado and the CU Boulder School of Education?

I have to say that my favorite part has been the people I have met. I continue to be amazed by the kindness and openness I have experienced. I feel very lucky to be here!  

Photo: Kathy Schultz, third from left, with her husband and two of their children on a Mt. Kilimanjaro hike.