DMU Mourns Death of Founding Podiatric Dean

Praised as a lifelong leader and tireless champion of innovation in medical education, Leonard A. Levy, D.P.M., M.P.H., founding dean of Des Moines University’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, died in February 2023. He was 87.

Known at the time as the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences (now DMU), the university established CPMS in 1981 with Levy as dean. The college was the nation’s sixth school of podiatric medicine and only the second one west of the Mississippi River. It admitted its first class of 28 students to its four-year curriculum in fall 1982.

“The Class of 1986 was carefully selected as a group of people from many types of backgrounds and different parts of the country but with the potential to become podiatric physicians, ready to assume the professional leadership necessary to take our profession into the 21st century,” Levy stated in the university’s 1983 Pacemaker yearbook.

Under his leadership, CPMS was awarded a $1.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Public Health Service to reduce the shortage of podiatric physicians in Iowa. The three-year grant project allowed the college to establish three podiatric clinics and implement a plan to recruit more students to the profession.

Levy, who left DMU in 1994, earned his podiatric medical degree at the New York University College of Podiatric Medicine. He then attended at Columbia University and became the first podiatric physician to receive a master’s degree in public health. He became dean and later president of the California College of Podiatric Medicine and also held senior positions at SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Texas-Houston. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Levy retired in 2016 as professor emeritus at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He continued writing, lecturing and mentoring in the health professions and served on the board of trustees of Larkin University in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

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