Leo J. Baranski Memorial Scholarship

Leo J. Baranski Memorial Scholarship

The philosophy of living each day as if it is one’s last is not a bad philosophy of life, since one never knows when that last day will come. This thought may not have been on Dr. Leo Baranski’s mind on a Friday in August of 1971, but it certainly became engrained in people’s minds after his death.

The next day the 45-year-old Dr. Baranski began to feel ill. By Monday afternoon he was hospitalized and by Monday evening he had passed away. The cause of death was acute leukemia, diagnosed only when he entered the hospital. He left a wife and three children behind.

Dr. Baranski had earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University and had been on the Cal Lutheran psychology faculty for six years at the time of his death. In that short he had endeared himself not only to the students who sat in his classroom but to fellow faculty members as well. His colleague, Dr. Edwin Swenson, wrote a thoughtful letter to CLU graduates who had experienced Dr. Baranski’s amazing teaching style. Dr. Swenson praised Dr. Baranski as an individual, a scholar, teacher, mentor and friend.

Earlier in the year before he died, Dr. Baranski had been selected by the CLC student body as professor of the year. He was not just a good teacher—he was a truly inspiring one. At his memorial service, Don Hossler ’71 painted in words the portrait of a professor who embodied all the ideal characteristics that others strive for. As Dr. Hossler said, Dr. Baranski “typified what he hoped for each man—that they develop to their fullest potential, both intellectually and personally.”

The Leo J. Baranski Memorial Scholarship was never endowed but has continued to be awarded on a year-to-year basis because the faculty and some of Dr. Baranski’s students still remember him and want to keep his legacy alive. In 2011 the psychology department re-designated the scholarship for students chosen to make presentations of their work at scholarly conferences.