Frederick Regennitter (’71 B.S., ’75 D.D.S.) exemplifies the very best of Iowa. Through his dedication to his patients, his country, and his research, he shows that 45 years of excellence in patient care, education, and research can and do make a difference in the world.
Regennitter was born in Anamosa, IA, about an hour from Iowa City in Jones County. He was the first member of his family to go to college, which was strongly encouraged by his father and mother.
At the time, Regennitter chose Iowa because he knew a couple of dentists who had attended Iowa. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and his D.D.S. in 1975, both from Iowa.
“What I learned at Iowa made a difference for my entire career,” Regennitter explained, “My experiences shaped my professional DNA, and it had a major impact on my decision to pursue advanced education in orthodontics.”
Regennitter also highlighted the unique contributions of the research program and facilities at Iowa.
“The research program at Iowa is on the cutting edge,” Regennitter said. “Iowa is able to draw from a modest patient pool, and still do elite, world class research with student contributions.”
The result, said Regennitter, is that Iowa is always producing “new ideas and new science.”
At Iowa, Don Osbon was an important mentor for Regennitter. Osbon was a professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery who had served in the Army and was particularly influential at directing Regennitter toward military service. Dean Donald J. Galagan, who was dean at the time that Regennitter completed dental school, also had a significant impact on Regennitter.
After completing dental school, Regennitter served in the Army for 24 years. He served in Panama, South Korea, and Germany, receiving numerous medals and awards for his service. During this time, he also completed his general practice residency at Womack Army Hospital, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and his orthodontics residency at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
After both residencies, he served two tours at Fort Knox in Kentucky, where he was the assistant director of the advanced education program in orthodontics and eventually became the program director during his second tour. This program trained general dentists and orthodontists for the US Army, Navy and Indian Health Service, with 60-70 dentists serving at the base.
During his tours at Fort Knox, Regennitter also began teaching as an adjunct faculty member in orthodontics at the University of Louisville. After retiring from the military, Regennitter was appointed as an assistant professor and later promoted to associate professor at Louisville. Regennitter was a professor at Louisville for six years before he found his dream job at the Mayo Clinic.
“It took me 30 years to be trained up to be a professor at the Mayo Clinic,” said Regennitter with a self-depreciating chuckle.
For Regennitter, Mayo combined the best of academia and clinical research. The cases were exciting, and he worked with a large research and craniofacial team.
For example, Regennitter was involved with the first successful facial transplant at Mayo Clinic. Regennitter helped with oral rehabilitation for the patient, using Invisalign for orthodontia treatment.
Regennitter mentored many students and residents over the course of his career in the military, at Louisville, and at the Mayo Clinic.
“I try to embody the positive education I received , be a role model, and establish for my own residents and students that good professional Iowa DNA,” Regennitter said.
“Iowa has a great dental legacy,” he added. “Be proud of it.”
Throughout his journey, Regennitter has been supported by his wife, Judy. They have been married for almost 50 years, and have two children and six grandchildren.
Frederick Regennitter came to the University of Iowa over 50 years ago, and since then, he has made a difference in the lives of his patients, his fellow dental officers in the military, his students and residents, and in research. For these reasons, the University of Iowa Dental Alumni Association and the College of Dentistry wish to honor Regennitter with the 2020 Leadership of the Year Award.