DES MOINES — Mark Bowden has ended his term as executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, citing “grossly unfair” treatment by officials in two state agencies that caused him to retire from state service.
Bowden, who had been on paid administrative leave since June 29 due to undisclosed reasons, submitted his retirement letter to the board on Friday, after the panel voted unanimously to reinstate him to his position — but later in the day indicated a desire to reconsider the action.
The board met this morning via teleconference to begin the process of searching for an interim director and permanent replacement to Bowden, who had been in the post since 2008.
In his letter to board chairman Kyle Ulveling of Carroll, Bowden said he had decided to retire after the board’s last week to reinstate him “without condition.”
“I want to thank you for your confidence in my ability to continue administering the agency where I have served honorably for the past 10 years,” Bowden wrote. “Unfortunately, over the past eight months I have been hindered in my work by what I perceive are substantial deficiencies in service and a lack of adequate support from the Department of Public Health and the Department of Administrative Services.
“The grossly unfair way in which I was treated by the personnel staff of these departments and state counsel during the past months broke the trust and confidence I need to effectively lead and administer the agency. Consequently, I am retiring from state service.”
Ulveling declined to comment on Bowden’s letter and referred media questions to the Department of Public Health and Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
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Lynn Hicks, communications director for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, said Bowden would be receiving retirement benefits that he had earned during his state employment tenure but there was no severance package or agreement associated with his decision to exit his executive directorship.
Hicks declined to comment further, saying “the reasons for his administrative leave are a personnel matter, so we cannot disclose that.”
He also indicated officials with the Iowa Board of Medicine, state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Administrative Services “are not commenting on his letter.”
Shaela Meister of the public health agency issued a statement saying, “Since Mark Bowden was an employee of the Iowa Board of Medicine and not the department, the Iowa Department of Public Health will not provide information indicating why he was put on administrative leave. The department has no comment on his resignation letter.”
In his letter, Bowden said he enjoyed working with members of the board over the past decade.
“I believe the success and credibility of the agency have been maintained by the board members who have the mettle to do what’s right — even in the face of adversity or pressure to do otherwise.”
He indicated in his letter that he retired effective Friday afternoon “in good standing.”
Bowden, 65, a longtime former editor of The Gazette, was paid more than $114,000 in fiscal 2017 as the Board of Medicine’s executive director, state records show.
Officials never publicly stated why Bowden initially was placed on administrative leave.
In the public session this past Friday, Bowden had called a possible decision to permanently remove him from the position “unfair beyond belief.”
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“If I thought I conducted myself in a manner that warranted termination, I would certainly admit it today,” he said. “I do not intend to dignify your offer that I submit a resignation in lieu of termination.”
The board, after holding a closed-door session on the matter, then voted 6-0 — with no public discussion — to reinstate Bowden to the executive director position. Three members were absent.
But by Friday afternoon the board said it would hold another meeting Monday morning.
Gazette reporter Michaela Ramm contributed to this article.
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