“Being chosen as the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award is an honor beyond anything I ever dreamed of,” said Jan. “This award is the group effort of the many people who helped shape my personality and capabilities for the better me over the years. Those helpers were my parents- Jim and Edythe Bednarz, my sisters – Charlene and Yvonne, my late wife Barbara, my daughters Jessica and Sandra, Michael M Bill, an excellent business leader, a friend, my business mentor and the Founder and Chairman of MJ Insurance, Inc., Dr. Madan Saluja, Dr. David Finley and all my Lambda Fraternity Brothers. Thanks also to Tom Coates of the LSSU Foundation (and a Lambda) and Susan Fitzpatrick of the Laker Alumni Association for keeping me connected to campus.”
Jan was involved with a wide variety of activities as a student at LSSC, now LSSU, which helped prepare him for a successful business life post-graduation. These activities include one year on the men’s basketball team, three years in ROTC, two years on the Student Senate, and three years in the Lambda Sigma Beta Professional Business Fraternity of which he was the President during his senior year.
“I believe it would have been impossible for anyone to be involved in this many activities at a university with a larger enrollment,” said Jan. “Many of the people I met then, I am still in contact with today. The low number of students in a class was definitely a benefit to me. We were able to get to know our professors both inside and outside of class.” 48 years after he graduated, Jan is still in regular contact with two of his former professors, Dr. Madan Saluja and Charlie Meiser.
His friendship with Dr. Madan Saluja, resulted in Jan contributing to the founding of the Lambda Sigma Beta Scholarship Fund in 1997. This endowment is awarded to students who have attained junior or senior status in the business program, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and who have demonstrated campus/community leadership and dedication to working in the business profession.
Jan received the Lukenda School of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005 and has been a member and president of the school’s Professional Advisory Board. Jan is also a Lifetime Member of the LSSU Alumni Association.
Jan worked at MJ Insurance from May 1976 to the end of 2016. He worked with clients that had risk exposures that many other insurers did not want to insure. Among his clients were the 2nd largest egg layer/packager in the United States, the 2nd largest duck grower/processor in the United States, and one of only three jet bridge fabricators in the United States that make and install the tube you walk through from the terminal to the jet aircraft.
Prior to working at MJ Insurance, Jan was a Marketing Representative with Royal Globe Insurance Company. He met his wife Barbara, while training in their Chicago Office.
Outside of work, Jan enjoys riding his 2007 Harley Davidson Softail Custom. He has ridden in 48 contiguous states and 6 Canadian Provinces. His longest ride was during the summer of 2017, when he drove 10,034 miles, over 53 days, 44 days riding, through all the states west of the Mississippi River (excluding Louisiana), in addition to Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky.
Jan also enjoys snow skiing, which he passed on to his daughters, and being President of the Home Owners Association for the subdivision he lives in.
The Outstanding Alumnus Award, established in 1968, is the highest honor that the association presents. It recognizes recipients for their personal and professional accomplishments and their involvement with LSSU, highlighting the significant achievements of alumni who serve as leaders in our region, state and nations.
Jan will be formally honored as the 2020 Outstanding Alumnus Award recipient during next year’s Great Lake State Weekend in 2021.