Services were held Saturday, July 26, 2003, in Chicago for John R. Beljan, M.D., the founding dean for Wright State University School of Medicine. Dr. Beljan was hired to start up the Miami Valley's new medical school in 1974. Dr. Beljan served as dean, vice provost and vice president of Health Affairs from 1974-1980, when the charter class graduated and he was appointed provost of Wright State University. He also was trained as a biomedical engineer and held a secondary appointment in Wright State's College of Science and Engineering. He left the university in 1983.
Dr. Beljan was previously a vice president of the Association of California Medical Educators and associate dean for medical education at the University of California-Davis, and he was the second founding faculty member at that institution. He also ran a research laboratory for NASA's space program and in 1964-65 served as a ground launch support team member for Project Gemini and the early Apollo Missions. He was a pioneer in aerospace medicine and provided NASA with novel research on circadian rhythm and the effects of space flight on the human body.
A Detroit native, Dr. Beljan was a Phi Beta Kappa undergraduate of the University of Michigan and received his M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1954. He served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force from 1955-1965, with the first four years of his service spent in advanced surgical training at University Hospital in Ann Arbor. Before his service was completed he earned the Decorated Commendation Medal and achieved the rank of major.
In 1983, Dr. Beljan assumed the positions of provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, and the dean of its School of Medicine. Dr. Beljan completed his career as the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Long Beach State University, and the president of Northrup University (posts he held simultaneously for two years). Throughout Dr. Beljan's various faculty appointments he also was a professor of surgery, biomedical engineering, physiology, and anatomy. An active academician, Dr. Beljan was the author or co-author of more than 100 specialized journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews in his multiple areas of professional interest and expertise. He was a member of some two dozen professional societies and organizations, and listed in a number of professional directories.
Dr. Beljan's community-based model for medical education was innovative at the time. Using existing hospitals for clinical education for medical students was cost effective and ensured that the school and community developed close working relationships. The community-based model has become more common as additional medical schools move away from the university hospital model.
Dr. Beljan, deceased at 73 years of age, is survived by his wife Bernadette, two sons and a daughter, and several grandchildren.
Donations in his memory may be made to the John R. Beljan Scholarship Endowment, established in 1983, at Wright State University School of Medicine.
For more information, contact Public Relations.