Over the course of the past 13 years, Michael Schulist has established himself as a reliable, insightful leader within the Carroll University Athletic Department.
Having served in many different professional roles during that time, Schulist's wealth of knowledge and guidance have proven to be an invaluable resource in the steady, ongoing development of the athletics program.
With an easy-going, confident demeanor and positive no-nonsense forward-thinking approach as an administrator, the energetic and passionate sports enthusiast has embraced every challenge with enthusiasm, learned from each situation and built a strong, lasting reputation.
Following a productive four-month stint as interim athletic director this fall, Schulist was fittingly officially named Carroll's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics on Dec. 16, 2019 - becoming only the third full-time athletic director in school history.
"It's a very special opportunity and I am beyond excited," said Schulist, of the announcement. "In all honesty, it's still a bit surreal as I've grown up with Carroll and specifically Carroll Athletics. I started out as a graduate assistant in 2007, was the sports information director, later got involved in fundraising and eventually became assistant AD so now to have the opportunity to lead the coaches and student athletes is humbling.
"It really hasn't sunk in as of yet. Hopefully, over the next few weeks during the holidays I'll have a chance to reflect on things. Carroll is a special place. I don't want to be anywhere else and envision myself being here for a long time to come. I'm beyond grateful."
The Greenfield, Wisconsin native and Whitnall High School graduate who received his bachelors degree in sports management from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (2007) and masters degree in sports administration from the U.S. Sports Academy (2014), has worked in many areas within Carroll Athletics, including fundraising, media relations, student work supervision as well as event and facility management - playing an instrumental role in such high profile campus projects as the renovation of Van Male Field House, the acquisition and construction of Haertel Field, the highly successful record-setting annual Pioneer Golf Classic along with the launching and rebranding of the athletic department, including the creation of a modernized website and newly designed logos for the Carroll "C" and Pio Pete.
It's been a steady, progressive career path for Schulist, who began his Carroll career in June of 2007 as assistant events and facilities coordinator/sports information assistant, gradually moved up through the program and was named senior associate athletic director for advancement, operations, media relations and marketing on on July 1, 2019.
"Mike is a proven leader with a strong work ethic. He embodies Carroll's ethos of respect, integrity, and stewardship. His deep knowledge of Carroll and the Waukesha community make him a perfect fit for this position," said Carroll University President Cindy Gnadinger, regarding the appointment.
It's been an eventful year for Schulist, who was one of 22 senior level administrators from across the nation (from institutions across all three divisions) invited to participate in the NCAA's prestigious Pathway Program, a highly selective year-long program which prepares individuals to excel as directors of athletics or conference commissioners.
"There's an element of pressure in taking on the new position but I'm in a bit of a unique situation because I've literally grown up with Carroll and have gotten to know a lot of people over the years," said Schulist, who worked as an intern for two local professional sports organizations, the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Wave, prior to joining the Carroll staff in 2007. "I feel like I've earned a lot of respect through the work I've done. It isn't like I'm going to stop doing what has ultimately helped get me to this position. I firmly believe in servant leadership and have no problem with making the hard decisions or continuing to contribute in various aspects as I've always done. So I don't expect people to do anything that I'm not willing to do.
"I'm going to still be out there grinding to help raise funds in order to most importantly give our student athletes the best four-year experience possible. It all starts with the coaches and athletes and providing the resources needed to give them the type of collegiate experience that they deserve. I'm more than happy to do whatever it takes behind the scenes so that the coaches, student athletes and alumni are all able to reap the benefits."
Schulist has also taken pride in serving on several NCAA sponsored committees - completing a four-year stint (2014-2017) as the national chairman of the central region's NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Ranking and Selection Committee and as the overall national chair of the committee (2017). He is currently serving a four-year term as national chair of the north region's NCAA DIII Football Championship Committee (2018-2021).
"We are thrilled to have Michael as our athletic director," said Dr. Theresa Barry, who oversees athletics as Vice President of Student Affairs. "He brings with him a wealth of knowledge about Carroll athletics and a strong understanding of the unique role athletics play in a student's college experience."
Schulist, who credits such mentors as Kris Jacobsen, Joe Baker, Rick Mobley and Dr. Sharon Beverly as being highly influential in his development as an administrator, is intrigued about continuing to work with the dedicated Carroll coaches, staff, administration and faculty while leading the school's 22-team athletic program.
"First and foremost, I can't thank President Cindy Gnadinger and Dr. Theresa Barry enough for giving me the opportunity. Without their input, support and encouragement over the last three years, I wouldn't be here right now.
The first thing we want to do is to follow President Gnadinger's vision and implement her ambitious, thoughtful master/strategic plan. It's my responsibility to see how athletics fits within that plan and to maintain a level of consistency that will allow us an opportunity to move forward and keep up with what our competitors are doing.
With the CCIW being one of the top three athletic conferences in the country, I want us to win and be successful so its my duty (and that of my athletics administration team) to come up with a plan that fits and thrives within that structure. Hopefully, we can find the right fit while at the same time giving our coaches the ability to recruit and present the best opportunity to the student athletes. At this point, we've accomplished a lot of special things from both an academic and athletic standpoint but there's even more that we hope to do in the future."
Schulist, who resides in New Berlin, Wis. with wife, Gini, and sons Nolan and Cody, is quick to point out that a strong, supportive family foundation has been vital to his ultimate career success.
"I can't thank my wife, Gini, enough for everything she has done," said a smiling Schulist, noting the couple is expecting their third child. "In this role you often work long, odd hours and she has been a rock in my corner from the very beginning.We met when I was a graduate assistant and she has been with me through thick and thin. She's been a great support system and we've been blessed to have two boys, who have gotten to enjoy the experience of coming to the office regularly and attending the various Carroll games and events. It's something I look forward to sharing with them in the years to come. My parents instilled my core values, have always encouraged my love of sport and continue to offer their support to this day. In that respect it's nice to be able to pass on those values not only to my family at home but also to the Carroll family.
"No matter what hat I wear or task I'm taking on, it's all about making it better for the current and future student athletes at Carroll University. From the beginning, I always wanted to be Carroll's Athletic Director so I feel extremely blessed to be a Pioneer and plan to be one for the forseeable future."