Pharmacy scholarship honors trail-blazing professor

Charley and Jean Matuszak

Charley and Jean Matuszak

A generous gift from Professor Emeritus Charles Matuszak in honor of his late wife—trail-blazing Professor Alice Jean Matuszak—will have a lasting impact on students in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy.

The $250,000 gift establishes an endowed scholarship for pharmacy students, covering a portion of tuition for the recipient’s three years in the program. The Powell Fund—a gift matching program at University of the Pacific—will put the total endowment at $500,000.

“My goal with this scholarship is to help students feel supported, fulfill their dreams and contribute positively to society, just like Jean did,” Matuszak said.

Jean Matuszak, who died in 2021 at the age of 85, was a pioneer in her field, earning her advanced degrees at a time when few women pursued careers in the sciences. She was the only woman in her class when she earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

She taught pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry at Pacific for 37 years, from 1963 until her retirement in 2000. Her husband worked alongside her in the Department of Chemistry in College of the Pacific.

The couple met when Jean was an undergraduate at The Ohio State University, where Charley was working on his doctorate. They were married by the end of Jean’s sophomore year and remained together for 65 years.

Charley worked in several temporary positions so Jean could continue her education. She earned her doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Kansas in 1963. 

“At that time, you would typically have the wife putting the husband through school, but since I already had my graduate degree, we did it the other way around,” Charley Matuszak recalled. 

After Jean graduated, they pursued their dream of going “out West,” and began their decades-long connection to Pacific when Charley was offered his position teaching chemistry.

“Although they didn’t have a job available for Jean, Dr. Ivan Rowland (inaugural pharmacy school dean) created a position,” Charley Matuszak said. “We had some very loyal students over the years. The (Annual American Chemical Society) barbecue was always fun because so many alumni came back for it—even students we had 50 years ago.”

Jean was a mentor to many, encouraging female students to explore careers in pharmacy. She advocated for women on the national level as inaugural chair of the American Pharmacists Association Committee of Women’s Affairs.

She also had a passion for history, taking many road trips with her husband to explore the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Her work researching and recording the history of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy earned her a certificate of commendation from the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy.

With the newly established scholarship, Jean’s history will live on.

“This scholarship is a fitting tribute to Dr. Alice Jean Matuszak who was a pioneering faculty member and strong advocate for women pharmacists and scientists,” said Rae Matsumoto, pharmacy school dean. “Her leadership and commitment to preserving the history of the school and the contributions of women to the profession of pharmacy will be fondly remembered by future generations of students through this legacy.”