Born in Austria, Katherine Gyékenyési Gatto was inspired to pursue both language and education by her father, the headmaster of a school in Hungary. Even though he lost the position when he was forced to move to the U.S. in 1951 to escape the war, he never lost his faith in the academic system. He ensured all of his children were able to go to college, and offered Dr. Gatto sage advice when it came time for her to pick a major. This resulted in her switching from German to Spanish. She ended up obtaining a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from John Carroll University in 1967, as well as a Master of Arts and a PhD from Case Western Reserve University in 1971 and 1975, respectively.
Degrees in hand, Dr. Gatto set out to make her mark on the field. She obtained her first position, assistant professor of modern languages and literature, at her undergraduate alma mater in 1975, and immediately realized she had found her niche. Dr. Gatto proceeded to advance within John Carroll University to positions like associate professor, chair of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures, and founder of the women and gender studies program. She accepted a full professorship at the institution in 1992, and has served in that role ever since.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Gatto has sought other ways to share her background and knowledge. She authored and co-authored books like “Spain’s Literary Legacy,” “The Learned,” “Treasury of Hungarian Love: Poems, Quotations & Proverbs,” “Of Kings and Poets: Cancionero Poetry of the Trastámara Courts,” “Manual Terapoutico para el Adulto con Dificultades del Habla y Lenguaje,” and “The lapidary of King Alfonso X.” She also joined the executive board of the Modern Language Association’s Hungarian Literature Discussion Group, among other prominent organizations.
Over the years, Dr. Gatto has received numerous accolades for her achievements. She has notably been selected for the George E. Grauel Faculty Research Fellowship every year since 2006, as well as in 2001, 1995, and 1981. Dr. Gatto also earned grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, a Fulbright-Hays Research Scholarship, and a National Defense Education Act Fellowship from Case Western Reserve University.
When Dr. Gatto isn’t working, she enjoys swimming, camping, hiking, traveling, theater, opera, folklore, and tennis.