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Dr. John Wozniak, Professor Emeritus and Founding Dean of the School of Education dies at age 97

Dr. John M. Wozniak joined the faculty of Loyola University Chicago in 1950. One year later, he was made acting chair of the Department of Education. He served 18 years in that capacity until the founding of the School of Education in 1969, when he became dean, a position he held for another 10 years.

John is a remarkable educator, scholar, mentor, colleague, and friend to all those passing through the School of Education. Dr. Wozniak retired in 1989 and remained active in the School of Education alumni events. Just recently he joined other emeriti faculty for lunch with School of Education dean, Dr. Michael Dantley.

Official Death Notice and Funeral Information

  • By W B MacDonald on 12.9.2013 at 11:57 am

    Dr. Wozniak was an influential person in my decision to become involved in guidance and counseling. His family should be proud of him. He became the spirit and drive behind the education department.

  • By Dr Jerry J. Field, EdD on 12.9.2013 at 12:44 pm

    When I applied for the doctoral program, I was sent to Dr Wozniak or an interview. His first question was why would someone teaching marketing with an MBA in marketing and economics want a Doctorate in education? My reply was simple I taught in the Army, I am interested in curriculum development to improve course content and a doctorate in business will not be much help. After a long and interesting discussion on the difference between military curriculum development and academic procedures he with a wonderful smile and friendly tone advised me to understand there is a major difference that best be kept among ourselves. Thought the years we had wonderful discussions with Gerald Gutek joining in often. It was wonderful to see him at Dean Dantley’s luncheon this year. John’s comment was “well have you discovered the major difference? and where are you teaching now? My simple reply at IIT and with the Army ROTC. , “Good still keeping them separate!”

  • By McKinley Dillingham, PhD on 12.9.2013 at 12:50 pm

    Dr. Wozniak was a great educator and human being as well. He let the Black students at Loyola know that they were welcome to the School of Education way back in the 60’s..a difficult time for race relations in America..I will never forget his understanding and respect he had for all students… his kindness and warm smile will remain in my memory forever….

  • By John Dowd on 12.9.2013 at 2:30 pm

    Condolences to Dr. Wozniak’s family. I gratuated from Loyola U with a MEd in 1965. I have great memories of the school and Dr Wozniak.

  • By Mike Dessimoz, '70 ED on 12.9.2013 at 5:55 pm

    John was a superior mentor to me in Graduate School, while I studied for my Guidance and Counseling degree. At the same time, he was a reliable collaborator as Dean while I worked in the Loyola Office of Admission. Would that we could all have such full, rich lives. He and his family are in my thoughts.

  • By Donna Stone on 12.9.2013 at 8:04 pm

    Dr. Wozniak was one of the most influential & kind professors I have ever had. He always was there for his students. When I had to commute from 2 hours away, he expedited my course load to do much via independent study–on line classes were unheard of at the time. In his Philosophy of Ed class he not only included Scholasticism, but every other religious & secular philosphy–very liberal for that time! Dr. Wozniak will be greatly missed!

  • By Mitch Cerrone, MEd '85 on 12.10.2013 at 2:33 pm

    My heartfelt and deepest condolences to Dr. Wozniak’s family. May a little bit of his spirit continue to live on through all of us who have had the great benefit of his tutelage and warmth.

  • By Michelle Lia, EdD on 12.10.2013 at 5:14 pm

    My prayers are with the Wozniak family. Dr. Wozniak’s legacy in the School of Education lives on today.

  • By Ed Dolan Ph. D. on 12.10.2013 at 9:53 pm

    John was a man admired and praised. Leadership and kindness were his trademarks. We will all miss you, John….you were an inspiration for all you touched…..

  • By Sig Lisowski on 12.13.2013 at 12:28 am

    It was a hot, humid, steamy summer day and there I was in the LT library taking my G&C comps. The air-conditioning was broken, it was 90+ in the library. All the windows were open, letting in all the assorted city smells along with car and truck fumes from the streets below. I put up with the stifling conditions for about an hour and then I tuned in my Blue-book to the proctor telling him I had enough and left. We were well prepared for the exam and filling in the Blue-book was just a formality. In the elevator it dawned on me “What the hell did I do ? I just walked out of my comprehensive exam. I will not get my degree!” I made my way to his office, luckily he was there. I explained what I did. He told me “You can’t fight city hall.” He retrieved my Blue-book and sat me down in front of the window air conditioner in his private office and let me finish my comp. That kind and understanding act allowed me to pursue a career in G&C for thirty years that I do not regret and found so much reward in! All thanks to this wonderful kind and understanding man!

  • By John F Etten EdD on 12.14.2013 at 11:37 am

    Dr. Wozniak was a mentor for me as I worked through my dissertation and was chiefly responsible for me continuing my studies when times were difficult. He was inspirational and was always helpful as a teacher in classes I had with him and postgraduate work.

  • By Jessie B. Blohm-Hamlet on 12.17.2013 at 1:16 pm

    I had the pleasure of working as the receptionist for the Department of Education under the leadership of Dr. Wozniak. I was there when we became the School of Education as a result of Dr. Wozniak’s hard and dedicated work.
    I became the Secretary for the Department of Curriculum in the School of Education which was all possible because of Dr. Wozniak’s determination. He was a kind and pleasant person. Always willing to listen and lend a helping hand. I later became an undergraduate and graduate student in the School of Education. Dr. Wozniak was instrumental in me receiving my degrees in education which I went on to complete 34 years with CPS. Thank you Dr. Wozniak for being you, just a wonderful person!

  • By L. Arthur Safer, Ph.D. on 1.22.2014 at 12:26 pm

    My association with John was many years after his tenure as Dean. When I came to the School of Education in 2000 as Associate Dean I had the privilege of connecting with John through our wonderful mutual friend, Kay Smith. His quiet demeanor masked his significant academic and scholarly achievements which had a national reputation. We had engaging conversations about the history of the school and I always enjoyed his stories about being a Skokie Library Trustee! I remember on a number of occasions when we had a department lunch and I would sit with John and Gerry Gutek who both tried to get me to order the blood soup at their favorite Polish Restaurant. LUC basketball was another must for both of us and we enjoyed the home games with my wife Carol Harding, Ph.D. Professor Emerita and our dear and close friend Valerie Collier. John will be missed as a mentor, scholar, leader, an advocate for social justice but most of all as an individual who was a friend to so many in so many different ways. John’s civility and graciousness for all should be a model that we all strive for in our lives.

  • By Edward S. Noyes on 1.22.2014 at 8:18 pm

    Dr. Wozniak was always the spiritual leader of the department during my time at Loyola( 1973- Ed.D-January 1980). His empathic, well grounded, and kind manner were provided to myself and to everyone I saw him interact with at Loyola–he indeed, made you feel a part of the LOYOLA FAMILY.

    Edward S. Noyes, Ed.D

  • By Barney Berlin on 1.23.2014 at 1:01 pm

    John is the most generous and unselfish person I know. If you somebody said they needed the shirt off his back, he would take it off but first he would make sure it was the right size!

  • By Sharon F. Kissane, Ph.D. on 1.24.2014 at 2:30 pm

    I fondly remember Dr. Wozniak who had recently become Dean of the School. Once on my way to class at the Watertower Campus, I had scraped my knee on
    a rough edge of my car and it had bled. I called into the school, saying that I would be late for his class. When I finally arrived, he was leading the class in prayers for me as he got the false message that I had been hit by a car.

  • By G. Gutek on 1.28.2014 at 4:14 pm

    I first meet John Wozniak in 1963 when he interviewed me for a position in philosophy of education in what was then, the Department of Education, then the largest department in Loyola’s College of Liberal Arts and Science and my appreciation of him grew during his long service as the School of Education’s founding Dean in 1969. I continued to learn from John until his death in December 2014. I would like to write about John Wozniak as a dean, a professor of philosophy of education, and as a unique and special person.
    As dean, Dr. Wozniak’s style of administration did not fit the pattern prescribed in most manuals on how to be an administrator. I can’t ever recall John styling himself as an educational leader. He led in the style that Father Raymond Baumhart, Loyola’s President, called the servant-leader. He led us in such a gentle and caring way that we did not even know we were being led. At our faculty meetings, no matter what real or imagined crisis we faced, John always optimistically assured us that the “bottle was half full,” never “half empty.” John Wozniak created a School of Education that was ecumenical and multicultural. Our students came from all religious persuasions; our classes were enriched by the presence of Catholics attending a Jesuit University; by Jews, including rabbis; by Protestants, including ministers; and by those whose religious commitments were known only to them. . The School of Education was multi-cultural before that word entered the educational lexicon. Our students came from all racial, ethnic and language groups—Euro-American, African American, Hispanic, Asia, and Arabic. Our School was multicultural because as the old hymn goes, “All are welcome in this place,”—the place that John Wozniak quietly shaped “
    Most deans are regulation makers and rule enforcers. John was just the opposite; he was a rule negotiator and sometimes a rule bender. Dr. Wozniak knew how to maintain standards without allowing an academic rule to become an obstacle to a student’s education. In his astute maneuvering of the bureaucracy of higher education, John was ably assisted by his assistant dean, Kay Smith, always the students’ advocate and protector. John and Kay shared what I learned was their very deep commitment to Loyola University and to its students.
    At the same time that Dr. Wozniak was a humane presence in Loyola’s School of Education, he also had a keen sense of the politics of education, especially how they functioned in Chicago’s public and Catholic schools. He knew the leading administrators, the principals, and many of the teachers in the public and parochial schools and was able to engage many of them to be adjunct instructors and to share their practical knowledge with Loyola’s students.
    Dr. Wozniak was a dean who was philosophical and a philosopher who had become a dean. He was a highly educated academic—a classicist who knew Greek and Latin. He understood that Loyola was an independent, Catholic, Jesuit institution. He was well aware of and followed the course set by Ignatius Loyola. Occasionally, John would lecture in my course in philosophy of education. I was impressed at his knowledge of Aquinas, Ignatius, John Dewey, and even Karl Marx. He had the gift of making a complex and abstract idea clear. Philosophically, John was a Renaissance man—a person who had a commitment to Loyola’s vision of education but was not dogmatic; he was sensitive to many perspectives. He treasured ideas and the freedom to express them.
    John was always a good listener and an engaging conversationalist about many things– education, politics, religion, literature, and philosophy. When he talked with us, he was open to sharing ideas. He was also a good story-teller, recalling his experiences about his service in the army during World War II, about coming to Loyola, and about his work on the Skokie library board.
    John Wozniak was a unique and special person. Those of us who were students and faculty when he was dean we were fortunate to walk with him on our educational paths. He took his time to come to know us; he wanted to learn from us; and he taught us well.

  • By Terry Williams on 2.4.2014 at 1:52 pm

    I arrived at Loyola’s School of Education in 1980 fresh out of graduate school and worked with John as a facuulty member until his retirement in 1989. During those years, he was one of the most likable and thoughtful faculty I had the pleasure of knowing. He was always very friendly and supportive of me and encouraged me in my teaching and in my research as I worked my way to tenure and promotion. Even though he was no longer Dean at that time, I relied on his thoughtful guidance and valued his recommendations very much. He was probably the most generous and self-less person I knew in the School at that time and would spend any amount of time with you in order to get to know you. He always asked about my son (who was born in 1982) and my partner Pat and how we were doing. At School functions and faculty social events he always found time to talk with everyone present including partners and children. While John would never boast about his own achievements, I knew (from others) that there were many and that he had made important contributions to the success of the School through his service and his scholarship. He was indeed unique and his legacy will long last within the School.

  • By Diane Schiller on 2.5.2014 at 10:40 am

    John was happy to see you. He always greeted me as Dianna. I never corrected him. His enthusiasm made me think about changing my name!

    One day, after his retirement, we met on the Skokie Swift. He was on his way to lunch with several colleagues at the Jesuit Residence. On that trip, I learned about the history of the Skokie Swift. He was so very proud of his position on the Skokie Library Board.

    During his retirement, it was always my pleasure to drive him to SOE events. Sometimes, on the return, we would stop for a bottle of “elixir”.
    Diane Schiller, Professor, School of Education

  • By Janet Pierce-Ritter on 2.5.2014 at 10:45 am

    While I never had the opportunity to work with John during his time at Loyola, I had many occassions to interact with him. From our first encounter at the initial SOE Alumni Reception in 2006, John shared his Loyola stories with me. His memory, down to the smallest detail, always amazed me. He touched so many lives. We are all fortunate to have known him.
    Janet Pierce-Ritter, Associate Dean, School of Education