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IOWA CITY — Nearly one year after University of Iowa College of Dentistry Dean David Johnsen announced plans to leave his post early following an uproar over his handling of free speech issues, the campus has named University of Illinois Chicago dentistry dean Clark Stanford to succeed him.
Stanford was one of four finalists named in the nationwide search to succeed Johnsen, who officially stepped down in June 2021 after 26 years at the helm.
The finalists — including interim UI College of Dentistry Dean Galen Schneider — participated in campus visits in October and November.
UI officials took nearly two months to announce a hire, which came this week. They declined last month to answer The Gazette questions about whether they had made an offer.
The move comes with a pay increase. Stanford was making $424,894 as dentistry dean at the University of Illinois Chicago.
He will be paid $462,500 at Iowa, making him the highest-paid dean at the UI, save for Brooks Jackson. Jackson serves as the dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine dean and vice president for medical affairs; his $1.1 million salary is not paid from the UI general fund.
As interim dean, Schneider was paid $382,017, slightly more than Johnsen’s salary of $364,754.
Stanford, who will hold the Edwin Green Chair in Dental Leadership, will start his UI tenure as dean April 1.
At Chicago, he also held the rank of professor in the Department of Bioengineering and was the sole dental faculty member to be named a distinguished professor in the Illinois system.
Stanford is a UI graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1984, followed by a doctorate in dental surgery and another doctorate in cell biology from the UI. He also received a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Illinois Chicago.
Stanford joined the UI faculty as an assistant professor in the College of Dentistry’s Department of Prosthodontics in 1992 and later was promoted to associate professor in that department and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation and in the College of Engineering.
Stanford was named a full professor in 2001 and in 2008 was named associate dean for research in the UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics. He left the UI — after 35 years as an academic and then professional Hawkeye — for the Chicago job in 2014.
In a statement, Stanford called it a great honor to return to the UI in support of its mission and vision to “provide the best in education, discovery, research and service to the citizens of Iowa.”
“It is an honor to return to my alma mater and be a part of its wonderful future,” Stanford said.
Stanford’s research has focused on medical device design, cellular mechanotransduction, clinical trial design and application of novel clinical and translational approaches to evaluate medical device performance, according to the UI.
Among his many memberships and leadership posts, Stanford serves on advisory councils for the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the Food and Drug Administration.
Free speech issues
Stanford will oversee a dental college that has seen some controversy in the last year — after Republican state lawmakers took issue with a collegewide email former Dean Johnsen sent in October 2020 condemning then-President Donald Trump’s executive order on diversity training.
When a conservative dental student “replied to all” with questions about the email — sparking a lengthy back-and-forth — that student was threatened with a “professional misconduct review hearing.” When the student reached out to lawmakers, the hearing was canceled, and the lawmakers brought in UI leadership to answer questions.
On the opposite side, dozens of students — including many who identify as minorities — also protested the college last year demanding a more supportive and inclusive environment.
Johnsen, who had been planning to retire in the summer of 2022, announced in February — after apologizing for his email — that he’d retire in June 2021 instead.
Johnsen remains a UI professor, making $225,000.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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