DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Life Events > In memoriam: John J. Kozak, professor and former EVP of Academic Affairs

In memoriam: John J. Kozak, professor and former EVP of Academic Affairs

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John J. Kozak, former executive vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of chemistry, passed away peacefully on Jan. 13 at the age of 80. 

John Kozak

 Kozak joined DePaul in 2003 as the chief academic officer, a position now known as the provost.  In 2006, he decided to step down from that office to return to the classroom as a member of the faculty in the Department of Chemistry. He continued to teach until the day before his passing.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Kozak was a first-generation college student and went on to a remarkable career in academia that provided him with more than a dozen major awards and commendations from both American and international universities, as well as a lifetime of friendships forged with peers around the globe.  

Lauded for his graciousness and civility, Kozak was known for his exceptional dedication to teaching and research. At DePaul, he emphasized the importance of faculty not only remaining current in their disciplines but also exploring the most effective teaching methods. He once said, “If your center of gravity is teaching, then you need to be discussing the best new methods of teaching."

As a result of his encouragement, areas across DePaul implemented new approaches to teaching. Equally important initiatives launched during his tenure as chief academic officer include the Vincent de Paul Professors program and the sophomore leadership program, as well as expanding the honors program.

In addition to his roles at DePaul, he also served as provost at Iowa State University; dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia, Athens; as well as multiple roles at University of Notre Dame, including professor of chemistry and associate dean of the College of Science.   He proudly published over 200 papers, co-authored with his esteemed colleagues.  

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Kozak received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1965.  In addition to his passion for teaching and research, he loved traveling, reading, running, his Polish and Slovak heritage, music, art, studying languages, a good rocking chair, a great meal with his family, and Notre Dame football.  

Kozak is survived by his wife, Catherine, three children, seven grandchildren, and many family and friends. A celebration of his life will be planned at a later date.  Memorial donations can be made to the Harper Cancer Research Institute at Notre Dame or the Case Western Reserve University Cancer Research Innovation Fund.  Memories and messages to his family c​​an be left at the online guestbook at Lakeview Funeral Home.