Iowa dental school dean to step down following email controversy that condemned Trump executive order

David Johnsen, DDS, will step down as dean of the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry months after he co-signed a mass email that sparked controversy for condemning an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump, The Gazette reported Feb. 25.

In the October email to students and faculty, Dr. Johnsen and more than 30 other college leaders criticized an executive order that banned diversity training by government agencies and contractors.

The email said the executive order "prohibits trainings that are crucial to progressing toward a more equitable and just society," according to the report.

A student replied with his own mass email questioning if the Iowa City-based college supports using federal funds to promote training that does involve race or sex scapegoating and stereotyping.

After conservative students complained that they were being harassed on campus because of their political views, Republican lawmakers held a Government Oversight Committee in which administrators apologized for conflicts involving students' free speech rights, according to Radio Iowa.

Dr. Johnsen will step down from his role in June, one year earlier than he had previously announced, but remain on the faculty as a professor of pediatric dentistry.

"The University of Iowa College of Dentistry has been my second home since 1995 and I have enjoyed every single minute of my time with our students, faculty and staff," Dr. Johnsen said, according to a statement the university provided Becker's. "I came to realize that the pieces are in place for me to step away a year earlier and that after more than 25 years, I am ready for change of pace."

The university hired a firm to conduct a search for his replacement. An interim dean will be named in the spring.

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