Iowa Department of Education director Ryan Wise to resign

He will become dean of Drake School of Education in Des Moines

Ryan Wise, director of the Iowa Department of Education, responds to a question during a human social services panel on
Ryan Wise, director of the Iowa Department of Education, responds to a question during a human social services panel on children’s mental health during the Iowa Ideas conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex in October. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The head of the Iowa Department of Education announced Wednesday he will be leaving his position next year.

Ryan Wise, 44, has been director of the department since 2015. He was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad and reappointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in January.

Wise has accepted a position at Drake University in Des Moines, where he will be dean of the Drake School of Education.

“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and look forward to continuing the work to strengthen the state’s education system at Drake University,” Wise said in a statement released by the governor’s office.

He will begin his new job “no later than” June 30, according to Drake University.

Reynolds congratulated Wise.

“He was a critical partner in our efforts to immerse students in a dynamic learning environment that prepares them for the ever-changing 21st century,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The current dean of the Drake School of Education is an essential partner in our state’s STEM efforts, so I know we all look forward to continuing to work with Ryan in this new role.”

Details of Wise’s transition still are being finalized, the release noted. The Iowa Department of Education referred questions Wednesday to the Governor’s Office, which did not immediately respond to an interview request.

According to a statement from Drake University, Wise will replace Janet McMahill, who will begin a sabbatical Dec. 31 and retire in June.

Wise is one of several state department directors who have departed this year.


The head of the Iowa Department of Transportation last week announced his resignation, saying it was at the request of the governor; Health and Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven was forced to resign over the summer; and the director of the Revenue Department left in January.

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