Gale E. Mikles, a Michigan State University alumnus, former wrestler and longtime faculty member in the College of Education, passed away on Jan. 17, 2017.
Mikles came to MSU as a wrestler, winning several championships and earning induction into the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. He earned his bachelor’s in agriculture and natural resources in 1948, and returned to the university in 1951 to serve in an athletic and academic capacity.
In the 1960s, when physical education was still combined with athletics at the university, Mikles (then an assistant to Director of Athletics Clarence L. “Biggie” Munn) provided administrative leadership for the undergraduate and graduate degree programs for both men and women. Mikles was appointed acting chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education in 1971, and became chairperson of the department in 1973. His appointment represented the first step in separating athletics from academics, and Mikles oversaw the transition.
Among the changes, Mikles and a team of other leaders in the department introduced a more demanding, comprehensive undergraduate curriculum in 1976, including skill competency courses, cadet teaching requirements and cultural and functional analysis courses.
“He was also involved with the formation of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports,” said Professor Dan Gould. Gould, now director of the institute, worked at the college during some of the later years of Mikles’s tenure.
“He expected a great deal from me, but was fair and straightforward,” Gould continued. Along with others in the department at the time, Mikles mentored Gould. “I remember that if you shook hands with Mikles, the deal was done, and he always followed through on that end. He also taught me some valuable lessons that have carried through my career.”
Mikles served at MSU from 1951-86.