John R. Beljan, M.D., the founding dean of Wright State's School of Medicine will return to Dayton October 7 to be honored at the Inaugural Medicine Gala.
Dr. Beljan arrived in Dayton in 1974 from California. He had been instrumental in establishing a medical school at the University of California at Davis, and the search committee that hired him believed this experience would help him develop an innovative medical school in Dayton. "I think history will show that he did an incredible job," one of the physicians who served on the search committee said recently.
The concept of a community-based medical school -- that is, one that does not own or operate an adjoining teaching hospital -- was visionary. It was cost-effective and eliminated the "town/gown" phenomenon found in other communities. Community support was the impetus for the school from the beginning. Governmental, civic, and business leaders campaigned vigorously to bring a medical school to Dayton. Dr. Beljan regarded this community support as an integral component. Community influences were obvious in the development of the curriculum and the admissions process, which comprised more community members than faculty.
Dr. Beljan was trained as a surgeon at the University of Michigan. He served 10 years as an Air Force surgeon and another 15 years in surgical practice. He had also run a research laboratory for NASA's space program.