CSUN’s first couple — CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and her husband, John L. Wujack — has made a gift to the university that will impact generations of Matadors and honor Wujack’s late father, Dr. Henry Joseph Wujack. The gift creates the Wujack Harrison Pre-Med Scholarship Endowment, which will support senior students whose intention is to pursue further education in the field of medicine with a specialty in family practice.
The former mayor of Bend, Oregon, John Wujack has been a visible and active part of the CSUN community throughout Harrison’s more than eight years leading the university, including active membership in CSUN giving societies the President’s Associates and Heritage Society.
“I have been so fortunate to witness how dedicated CSUN students are in their desire to not only lift themselves, but their families and their communities,” Wujack said. “I am also fortunate to have this opportunity to provide support for students who will one day do the same life-changing work that my father so passionately did for nearly 50 years. He would be so proud to know that his legacy will live on through CSUN students turned doctors.”
Dr. Wujack earned his medical degree from Syracuse University and later opened his family practice a few blocks away from his childhood home in Newark, New Jersey. He was an influential figure in his community and had a medical career that spanned nearly five decades.
“Dr. Wujack was known for his tireless efforts, his devotion to medicine, his sense of humor, but perhaps most notably, his mentorship to aspiring surgeons,” Harrison said. “This award honors the spirit of his work. It will also have a ripple effect, not only impacting the future doctors who will benefit from the award, but the families and patients who will eventually receive care from them. John, like his father, cares greatly about helping people and shows his big, generous heart on a daily basis.”
After just a few years in practice, Dr. Wujack enlisted and served as a naval surgeon in North Africa, Ireland and England during World War II. In the immediate aftermath of the D-Day Invasion, he served in France where he suffered a back injury when the vehicle in which he was riding struck a landmine and exploded.
Dr. Wujack returned to the United States to convalesce in Baltimore, where he met his future wife, Virginia Lee McCance. They later had four boys and reopened the family practice in Newark at the family’s home where Virginia worked as the receptionist.
Dr. Wujack later became chief of surgery of The Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey and served in that capacity for most of the 1970s. After a long career serving the health needs of his community, he retired in 1996. In 2000, he passed away.
The first award in his honor will be announced in Spring 2021 for Academic Year 2021-2022, with annual awards thereafter.
“I have had the privilege to get to know John well through my work with President Harrison and CSUN. So it was pleasant, but not a surprise, to learn about his father’s decades of service to his community. That spirit is evident in John, who has been a consummate ‘First Gentleman’ in serving the CSUN community and supporting Dianne in her leadership of the institution,” said Robert D. Gunsalus, vice president for University Relations and Advancement and president of the CSUN Foundation. “It is an honor for the Foundation and the university to help John carry on the legacy of his father, Dr. Henry Joseph Wujack, through this scholarship.”
This new gift from Harrison and Wujack comes after their earlier giving established the Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award, which is awarded annually to a rising sophomore who has shown leadership initiative on campus.
“Often, CSUN alumni and friends look for ways that they can support students and at the same time reward those who meant so much to them on their journey to success,” CSUN Foundation Chair Robert D. Taylor said. “Not only is the gift a selfless action by President Harrison and John, but in naming it for his father, the gift is that much more special. As an alumnus and supporter of CSUN, as well as a friend to them both, I am grateful for all their immeasurable contributions through the years.”