An enduring legacy at the School of Medicine
In the words of longtime friend and Wayne State alumnus Kurt Kazanowski '81 M.S., James Skupski '76 B.S., '80 M.D. was without a doubt "a true Wayne State guy." After earning his degrees from the university he so loved, Skupski became a faculty member and academic leader at the School of Medicine, and both treasured and enjoyed every minute of the experience.
Skupski's wife, Dianne Widzinski '79 B.S., knows precisely why her late husband was devoted to Wayne State. As she stated so succinctly, "It was because Jim felt he garnered the finest education possible at WSU, an education he firmly believed served him most admirably as he pursued a successful medical career."
And perhaps Skupski had another important reason to reflect fondly upon Wayne State—it is also where he met his wife of 32 years, Dianne. The two enjoyed a life of great joy and love before Jim prematurely passed away in 2011 at the age of 58.
According to Widzinski, the pinnacle of Skupski's career was his 2005 receipt of two teaching awards from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. "Of all the pursuits he enjoyed, Jim was a teacher first," she noted. "His kind spirit and generosity as he shared his knowledge with students was profound."
Skupski also had quite the comedic wit. "Jim had a very unique sense of humor," said Kazanowski. As a medical student, Skupski loved participating in the end-of-year lampoon tradition, during which students performed skits poking a bit of fun at faculty members. "Jim loved that. His creative juices just flowed," said Widzinski. "Plus it provided an entertaining relief from the toils of med school."
In 2014, Widzinski established the James N. Skupski, M.D., M.P.H. and Dianne Widzinski Endowed Scholarship to further support the pursuit of the medical profession for those whom Dr. Jim most loved—students. Their generous $2 million gift provides a full-tuition scholarship for students through their entire four years of medical school.
"I couldn't think of a better way to honor Jim," said Widzinski. "His life and legacy will live on through these students, as well as those they serve, throughout the years."