Galen Schneider named interim dean of College of Dentistry

After current dean David Johnsen’s announced he would be stepping down from his position a year earlier than originally planned, Schneider will step in as interim dean effective June 12


Emily Wangen

The UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics building is seen on July 17, 2019.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

Galen Schneider has been named the interim dean within the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.

Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel named Schneider the interim dean effective June 12, the day after current College of Dentistry Dean David Johnsen will step down.

Galen Schneider

Schneider, who’s currently the executive associate dean and associate dean for faculty in the College of Dentistry,  will serve as interim dean until there is a new leader of the college is selected and in place.

Johnsen stepped down as dean a year earlier than his original plan, which was to retire from the position in the summer of 2022.

Johnsen’s decision to step down came after an email thread within the college raised controversy and caused state Republican lawmakers to voice free speech concerns of students and faculty within the college.

College administrators emailed students, faculty, and staff in the college expressing disagreement with an executive order from former President Trump in October that put restrictions on diversity, equity, and inclusion training. 

This executive order forced the UI and every college within the university to temporarily suspend all DEI training and initiatives. 

This email denouncing the executive order received several replies from students and faculty that stated their approval of the order – one faculty member even stated that they “cannot support Black Lives Matter.”

These comments were found offensive and insensitive by many students within the college, which prompted students to organize and hold a march on Jan. 29 to call for increased DEI training and sensitivity within the college.

College administrators called the student, Michael Brase, who first replied to the email questioning the college’s stance in for a hearing. Brase contacted Republican lawmakers, who contacted to the university on his behalf. College of Dentistry administrators canceled the hearing.

Johnsen was called before the House Oversight Committee regarding this incident in February, where he apologized, and said the college would refrain from sending similar emails in the future. 

Until he steps down on June 11, Johnsen will continue to serve as a professor of pediatric dentistry within the college. 

Johnsen has been the dean of the college since 1995, this being his 26th and last year in the role. 

There is currently a search committee being formed to find a new dean for the College of Dentistry, with co-chairs of the committee being Dean of the College of Nursing Julie Zerwic and Department Head of Preventive and Community Dentistry Dan Caplan.

In addition to Zerwic and Caplan, the search firm Greenwood/Asher will also assist the committee in its search for a new dean.

The remaining members of the search committee will be announced later this month.

In the Thursday press release from Iowa Now, the UI’s news service, Kregel thanked Johnsen for his service, and said he looks forward to working with Schneider, highlighting his experience in the college.

“He has a long and distinguished record of collegiate leadership and service, and the college will be in excellent hands while we search for the next permanent dean,” Kregel said.