School of Health Professions

PT Chair Greg Ernst retires

Greg Ernst, PT, PhD, ECS, recently retired as chair of the Department of Physical Therapy


Associate Professor Greg Ernst, PT, PhD, ECS, has retired as chair of the Department of Physical Therapy after 17 years of service to the School of Health Professions.

Ernst joined the faculty in 2006, after a 24-year career as an active duty U.S. Army and U.S. Navy physical therapist. While in the military, Ernst practiced, taught and held various leadership roles, including serving as consultant to the Navy surgeon general.

“If there were any issues related to PT in the Navy as a whole, I was the go-to person,” Ernst said.

At School of Health Professions, Ernst served as interim chair of the Department of Physical Therapy on three occasions before eventually serving as chair beginning in 2020. While at the university, he received the Presidential Teaching Excellence Award in 2015 and the School of Health Professions Shirlyn McKenzie Teaching Excellence Award in 2015 and 2019.  His recommendation for emeritus status is pending approval.

Several members of the PT faculty praised Ernst’s steady leadership style and unflagging support.

“His whole calm demeanor allowed everyone to perform at their best,” said Michael Geelhoed, DPT, OCS, MTC, associate professor and director of clinical education for the Department of Physical Therapy. “That was a great leadership trait. He was a strong, steady presence that we needed, and he did that multiple times as an interim chair. When he took the full-time [chair’s position], it was the culmination of that.”

Associate Professor Bradley Tragord, PT, DPT, DSc, who is serving as interim chair of the department while the School of Health Professions conducts a search for the next department chair, said he appreciated Ernst’s collaborative decision-making style.

“He listened to the staff and faculty and valued that,” Tragord said, recalling that Ernst never failed to show up when Tragord requested faculty support during lab examinations. “He was there 100% of the time.”

Ernst continues to treat patients in his specialty of clinical electrophysiology, which involves examining peripheral nerve disorders and injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. He also is serving as Chair of the Electrophysiology Lab Accreditation Committee and Research Chair of the Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management within the American Physical Therapy Association. 

Ernst also plans to spend time woodworking, fishing, camping and traveling.

“I really enjoy the clinical work, and so I still want to do a lot of that,” he said. “My goal in retirement is to be one of those people who say, ‘I don’t know how I had time to work.’” 

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