Faculty Spotlight: Bryan Gatzke

Assistant Professor Bryan Gatzke

Bryan Gatzke, MS, is the division chair for Graceland’s health and movement science program.

Health and movement science has concentrations in allied health, coaching, health, health education and physical education, which often leads to graduate work in physical therapy, occupational therapy or chiropractic studies.

Gatzke has been leading the program toward an evidence-based practice model using research and experience to help drive the decision-making process as a practitioner.

Gatzke is up to date with this changing and prevalent area in higher education. Currently, all the health and movement science professors are working toward their terminal degrees — the highest in their field. Gatzke is in a doctoral program in human sport performance at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah.

He plans to complete his dissertation in strength conditioning with the Graceland women’s volleyball team and coach Stew McDole.

“I was in Utah for my doctoral work and spent time with physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, athletic trainers, strength conditioning folks and all kinds of professionals, which really let me collaborate with them. I’m always concerned for Graceland’s students and thinking of ways that we can make our program better. We are trying to prepare them at this level for what they’ll need at the next.”

Growing up in Wisconsin, Gatzke comes from a blue-collar factory working family and is a first-generation college graduate. He nearly didn’t make it through undergrad and had never considered graduate school as an option, but once he found his path, he made up for lost time.

“I changed my major four times — I can relate to many students who haven’t found just what they want to do yet. I had terrible grades and took time off; I just wasn’t focused,” explained Gatzke. “I had to come back from that. I was readmitted conditionally at the university. I switched over to fitness management and took anatomy physiology, and it turned out to be the best class I’d ever taken. Something clicked, and I realized I needed to put in serious effort. I couldn’t get through by guessing — I needed to really know the content. There is no easy street. It was the first class that really instilled my academic work ethic.”

Gatzke finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in fitness management. He made an amazing comeback from a 1.0 grade point average to finish top of his class for fitness management students. While he was there, he worked in their biomechanics lab, presented at the state symposium and attended a few national conferences.

Now working on his doctorate, he realizes the importance of the academic field and brings his expertise to the classroom. Gatzke is making sure Graceland students are as well-equipped as any in the country.

Student-athlete Lucky Lovan ’19 noted the time Gatzke has taken to answer questions from lectures and help him prepare for physical therapy school: “Professor Gatzke is very knowledgeable in his field and values my learning by explaining the material in great detail,” says Lovan. “He expects the most out of his students and wants us to succeed in our future endeavors as clinicians.”

“ I had a vision of where we wanted to go — to bring in a stronger scientific base. We want students to know what they're doing, but also why.”

- Bryan Gatzke, MS
Division Chair - Health and Movement Science