With a degree in landscape architecture and a job as a professor of kinesiology, Paul Bartlett’s life has been anything but ordinary, and Northwestern has been able to share in that journey for the past 36 years.
Bartlett started his life wanting to be a golf course architect. He continued on this path at Iowa State University through his degree in landscape architecture. All the while, he wrestled at Iowa State University. After finishing his career, he served as a student coach for the wrestling team and that experience changed his career path. Bartlett felt called to teach and coach at a college level.
So he got his master’s degree in physical education at Drake University and was hired by NW as he worked on his doctorate in physical education at the University of Arkansas.
“While at Arkansas, I was encouraged by my chair to blend landscape design with athletic practice and performance as my dissertation topic,” Bartlett said. “More specifically, my research emphasized outdoor sport facility design and importance-performance post-design assessments.”
This has all led to his current research and position at NW. For 22 years, Bartlett coached wrestling at NW until 2006. From 1985 to 1998, Bartlett coached women’s golf. During all of this coaching and teaching, Bartlett became president of both the NAIA Wrestling Coaches Association from 1995 to 1997 and the NAIA Women’s Golf Coaches Association from 1996 to 1997. His positions as president in both associations led to Bartlett becoming part of the NAIA Hall of Fame for Meritorious Service.
Nominees must be of outstanding quality, high moral character, fine leadership ability and must be held in high esteem by their colleagues, former coaches and former athletes, according to the NAIA.
Bartlett was nominated by the prior wrestling coach at NW, John Petty, and received this award in 2008. Still, Bartlett’s colleagues can affirm these qualities in him.
“I appreciated his ability to ask extremely well-thought out questions that spur great conversations promoting personal reflection and growth,” said Kyle Oschner, a professor of the practice of kinesiology and the director of athletic performance.
Though the start of his career at NW was as a coach, most of his days now are filled with classes and departmental matters. Yet, he still finds time every week to visit the Rowenhorst Student Center to play racquetball or the wrestling room during the season for workouts.
After work, he heads home to his wife, Sharon. They have been married for 42 years this May and have two daughters, Addie and Anna. Both of Bartlett’s daughters went to NW and graduated with honors. His favorite memory is seeing his two daughters flourish, grow and graduate at NW. Though his family is a reason he has loved NW, it is also part of the reason for Bartlett’s decision to retire.
“There are several reasons I believe God is calling me to retire from full-time work at NW at the end of this academic year, most of which are about timing — for me personally, for my immediate family, and for the kinesiology department,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett hopes to return to NW in a part-time role this fall of 2020. He still wants to work with students and contribute to the department and the wrestling program but is ready to spend more time with his daughter and granddaughter, travel and play golf.
He hopes to leave this advice in the hearts of his students and all those he did not have an opportunity to interact with on campus: “Be open to different perspectives and changes in your plans. Embrace the unexpected.”