The department of Otolaryngology had its inception at the State University of Iowa in 1871, when a lectureship was established in ophthalmology and otology. Dr. E. F. Hagen was the first to occupy the lectureship position. He was followed by Dr. C. M. Hobby, who held the position from 1875 to 1879. A lectureship in dental surgery was given by Dr. I. P. Wilson of Burlington.

Dr. James W. Dalby succeeded Dr. Hobby in 1879, and in 1893 ophthalmology and otology were given full professorships with the appointment of Dr. Dalby as head of ophthalmology and Dr. Charles Robertson as head of otology. In 1898, the first University Hospital was opened for patients in the building now designated as East Hall. By 1900, the four medical courses were extended from 16 weeks to nine months, and the medical department assumed a truly academic status and became the College of Medicine.

When Dr. Dalby resigned in 1903 as professor of ophthalmology, Dr. Lee Wallace Dean was appointed his successor. Dr. Dean had received his BS Degree at the University of Iowa in 1894. and his MS and MD degrees in 1896. He was a demonstrator of pathology and bacteriology from 1894 to 1896, and in anatomy from 1896 to 1898.

He served as acting professor of physiology from 1898 to 1899, and professor of physiology from 1899 to 1901. For the next three years he was professor of otology and rhinology and assistant in ophthalmology. In 1903 he became professor and head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Otology.

Ultimately, Dr. Dean assumed additional responsibilities as Dean of the College of Medicine, a position he held until his resignation in 1927. In approximately 1920, Dr. Dean established a dental surgical service within the Department of Otolaryngology, and designated Ralph Fenton, DDS, to serve as professor.

In 1925, ophthalmology became a separate department, with Dr. Dean continuing as head of the Department of Otolaryngology and dean of the College of Medicine.

Following his resignation, he became professor and head of the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University, St. Louis, MO., until his retirement in 1941. He died in 1944.

After the resignation of Dr. Dean in 1927, Dr. D.M. Lierle became acting head of the Department of Otolaryngology and Oral Surgery. In 1928 he was named professor and head of the department. It was in this year that the present University Hospitals were dedicated. In 1952 the Department of Oral Surgery became autonomous, and the Department of Otolaryngology became known as the Department of Otolaryngology and Maxillofacial Surgery. In 1959 the Board of Regents approved the title of Hospital Dental Department of the hospital dental service.

When Dr. Lierle retired as head of Otolaryngology in 1964, he was succeeded by Dr. Brian F. McCabe. Under Dr. McCabe’s leadership, academic excellence became the department’s goal. Multiple divisions were established that reflect the primary subspecialty services provided in the department: otology and neurotology, head and neck oncology, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, pediatric otolaryngology, speech pathology and audiology, and craniofacial surgery.

Long-term research projects in cleft lip and palate and cochlear implants were initiated during Dr. McCabe’s tenure. In 1980 name of the department was officially changed to the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. It is noteworthy, that since the official inception of the department in 1922, we are currently on only our 5th department chair. 

Oto past Chairs Paintings