Loyola University Chicago

Gannon Center for Women and Leadership

Coffey Award 2013


Named for M. Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, this award honors an alumna for her leadership in the community, accomplishments in industry, and service to others.


Dr. Elaine M. Schuster

A national leader in education, Elaine Schuster, PhD, (MUND '68) recently served as an education fellow at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Joining the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1964, she stayed with the order until 1970, an experience she credits with preparing her well for a career in Catholic educational ministry and leadership. Completing her Bachelor of Arts in English from Mundelein College in 1968 and her Master of Arts in education from Northwestern in 1970, Dr. Schuster started her career as an English teacher at Chicago-area high schools for girls. She then worked in the education office of the Chicago Archdiocese for seven years before returning to Mundelein College as vice president of marketing and dean of admissions.

After earning her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1987, Dr. Schuster served as the principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, Illinois, for four years. In 1991, she became the first lay person named superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the largest non-public school system in the US. At the time of her service, the Archdiocese contained 325 schools, 130,000 students, and 6,000 teachers.

In 2001, Dr. Schuster left the Archdiocese to become president and CEO of the Golden Apple Foundation. During her tenure there, she is credited with stabilizing the Golden Apple Foundation's fiscal condition, implementing a successful strategic plan, and enhancing the image of the foundation. In 2006, she joined the Kellogg School of Management.

Dr. Schuster's 45-year career in education has earned her a number of plaudits. In 2001, she received the C. C. Albert Koob Merit Award from the National Catholic Educational Association and was also presented by Francis Cardinal George with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award for outstanding service to the Church. Also in 2001, Loyola University Chicago awarded her an honorary degree. She is a past member of the University's Council of Regents and served on the School of Education's Advisory Council from 2002-2010.