Peter Densen, MD, said he worried for years about whether his 35 years’ worth of work in the Carver College of Medicine would be sustained. “But now I have every confidence,” he said, “the torch will stay lit.” Dr. Densen pointed specifically to leaders like Amal Shibli-Rahhal, MD, MS, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Curriculum; Chris Cooper, MD, the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education; and Manish Suneja, MD, Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Densen’s comments came amid an assessment of his decades of service to the college and the University of Iowa at a gathering in honor of his retirement on September 21.
Dr. Densen expressed pride in what he had accomplished, but devoted the bulk of his remarks to those he served alongside. He offered gratitude for the assistance of many of those assembled, as well as the lessons he learned from them. Over the course of his remarks he touched on the variety of roles in which he served, offering insights as well as some humorous anecdotes that revealed the delight and pride he found in his work.
Before Dr. Densen took the microphone, though, gathered guests had time to socialize, sign a guest book, and review a detailed timeline of his career at the University of Iowa. Welcoming remarks and heartfelt congratulations were offered from former colleagues and former students, and even a pre-recorded video tribute from Dr. Allyn Mark. All of them spoke of Dr. Densen’s skill at problem-solving, at his high but fair standards, and at the joy they took in knowing him both professionally and personally. They offered gifts with meaning attached, including the return of a green plaid jacket that had previously belonged to Dr. Densen, which he slipped on before beginning his remarks.
There were many signs of the impact Dr. Densen had on both the other speakers as well as the guests in attendance. As the stories emerged, whether it was advising a medical student on how to navigate a long-distance relationship or modernizing a curriculum for a new generation of students, it became clear that that Dr. Densen’s impact on this institution will be felt for years to come.