Pacific remembers Professor Emeritus Alice Jean Matuszak

Jean Matuszak

Alice Jean Matuszak, PhD (June 22, 1935–January 10, 2021)

Alice Jean Matuszak, PhD, professor emerita of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry, passed away on January 10. She taught at University of the Pacific for 37 years.

Dr. Matuszak was raised on a dairy farm in Ohio. The chemicals used on the farm sparked her interest in chemistry. She earned a bachelor of science in pharmacy and a master of science in pharmaceutical chemistry from Ohio State University (OSU). At OSU she met her husband, Charles, who was working on his doctor of philosophy in chemistry. She earned her doctor of philosophy in pharmaceutical chemistry from University of Kansas.

Interested in pursuing careers in academia, the couple sought out a university where they could both join the faculty. They found that opportunity at Pacific. When Dr. Matuszak interviewed with Dean Emeritus Ivan W. Rowland, PhD, he hired her on the spot. Her husband accepted a position in the Department of Chemistry. The couple served on the Pacific faculty from 1963 until 2000. In 1994, she received The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumni Award. She received the Order of Pacific, the University’s highest honor, and the Kappa Epsilon professional pharmacy fraternity Career Achievement Award in 2000.

“She taught decades of pharmacy students in creative and thought-provoking ways and in doing so instilled in them the importance of basic science and in particular chemistry as the foundation of pharmaceutical therapies,” said Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD, dean emeritus. “She also was a faculty advisor to Lambda Kappa Sigma fraternity and is credited with encouraging and mentoring many women in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. In the national arena she broadened her advocacy for women in pharmacy as the inaugural chair of the American Pharmacists Association Committee of Women’s Affairs.”

Friend and former colleague Ralph L. Saroyan ’64, RPh, professor emeritus, calls her a “pioneer and leader in American pharmacy.” Saroyan said, “During her first year on faculty she charted the course to establish a chapter of the Rho Chi Honor Society at Pacific.”

Dr. Matuszak served a 10-year term on the United States Adopted Names Council, which is tasked with creating unique nonproprietary names for new drugs before they are released on the market. A lover of history, she chronicled the history of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and the California Pharmacists Association. Dr. Matuszak served as president of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science from 1993 to 1994 and as president of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy from 1997 to 1999.

She was fascinated by the Lewis and Clark expedition and she and her husband took a road trip following the national historic trail. They took many road trips crisscrossing the United States. Tracing her genealogy, they took seven trips to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland with the Clan Irwin Association. She enjoyed watching NASCAR and college football and was a loyal fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. She is survived by her husband of 65 years and their two sons, Matthew and James.

Alice Jean Matuszak