Emory PT Alumna, Meryl Gersh, Wins Trustees’ Medal


Meryl Roth Gersh, PT, PhD, professor of physical therapy, is the recipient of the 2010 EWU Trustees’ Medal Award.

The Trustees’ Medal Award is the university’s highest form of recognition for faculty achievement. Each year since 1978, the award has honored teaching excellence, significant contributions to scholarship and research, and accomplishments in the development of academic programs and curriculums. The award consists of a bronze medallion and a $1,500 cash prize from the EWU Foundation.

Dr. Gersh began teaching at Eastern in September 1985, and, within one year, she moved into a tenure-track position, receiving tenure in 1992, and full professorship in 1996.
She earned a doctorate degree in leadership studies from Gonzaga University in 2008, a master’s degree in medical science from Emory University in Atlanta in 1978, and Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1974.

An integral part of the Department of Physical Therapy since its inception in 1985, Dr. Gersh and the late Dr. Donna El-Din taught the entire curriculum for a period of time during the early years of the program.

Before her passing, Dr. El-Din, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, said of her friend and colleague, “The first faculty members of the department had a special role to play. We were responsible for the expected functions of a faculty member, teaching, research and service, but also for the accreditation function expected of our profession. Dr. Gersh came to us with clinical experience in virtually all areas of practice.”

Dr. El-Din added, “Dr. Gersh has vision for the current state of the program, as well as the future, and has been able to suggest and implement goals for the program related to that vision.”

Dr. Gersh played a significant role in the progression of the Physical Therapy Program as it developed from a bachelor’s degree, to a master’s degree, and to what is currently the university’s only doctoral degree program.

She has served the university in a variety of capacities, many of which are related to curriculum. Her vast experience on the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC), having served multiple terms, allowed her to provide significant input for the physical therapy curriculum and other curriculums within the health sciences and other disciplines.

As a member of the GAC, Dr. Gersh brought a balanced, patient and clear expression that guided the committee through a wide range of conversations on admission requirements, curricular proposals, policy, issue analysis and communication within the council and to the wider university community.

Beginning fall quarter 2010, she will serve as chair of EWU’s Physical Therapy Department.

Her insight and knowledge of professional physical therapy curriculum has been instrumental in the development of a program with a very high success rate of graduates for the physical therapy licensure exam.

Dr. Gersh is considered an outstanding teacher by her students. Her course evaluations have never failed to be rated excellent, or very good, by students enrolled in the program. She consistently receives high praises from the department faculty and faculty from other departments.
She is a highly sought-after speaker, often asked to present her areas of expertise at the local, state, national and international level.

In September 2009, she traveled to Chisinau, Moldova, on a medical mission, volunteering her service in physical therapy. She plans to return there for additional follow-up.

A member of the American Physical Therapy Association, she has served as a member of six sections, vice-chairing one. She is a manuscript reviewer for six peer-reviewed journals, of not only physical therapy, but also sports medicine. She has served as a consultant for the Intercollegiate School of Nursing and is currently a national consultant on electrophysiology and electrotherapy, as well as for the Medtronic Corporation.

Because of her service, the Physical Therapy Association of Washington has named her “Physical Therapist of the Year” and she has recently received the American Physical Therapy Association’s Lucy Blair Service Award for 2010 for her contributions to the profession of physical therapy.

During her 25 years at Eastern, Dr. Gersh has dedicated herself to the teaching of physical therapy students, providing service to the department, the university and the profession of physical therapy.
Dr. Gersh is a MMSc alumna of Emory’s physical therapy program.