Scandals hit UCLA dental school

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) dental school faces twin allegations this week: That students cheated on national board exams and that applicants to the university's orthodontics residencies are being asked for donations in return for admission.

The accusations against the orthodontics program stem from an investigation by the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper. It reported Tuesday that admissions officials were asking applicants for hefty donations, a practice that would contradict long-standing policies at the public university. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times, KNBC, and other news organizations carried similar comments from students who said they had been asked to pony up if they wanted to get a residency.

In a February letter posted on the Daily Bruin web site, John Beumer III, D.D.S., M.S., resigned as chair of the faculty executive committee of the school of dentistry because, "The selection process for residents in orthodontics amounts to nothing less than an affirmative action program for the wealthy and well-connected."

Responding to these accusations, No-Hee Park, dean of the School of Dentistry, said in a prepared statement that the university had already investigated and found that the orthodontics program was "fair and merit-based," but that it had also made improvements to the admissions process, according to the Times.

The Daily Bruin attributed the requests for private contributions to declining public support for the school.

As for the cheating charges, the Times said it couldn't confirm details. But two anonymous members of the School of Dentistry told the newspaper that the American Dental Association (ADA) was investigating the sharing of compact discs containing improperly obtained questions from the ADA's National Board Dental Examinations.

The cheating allegations extended to other universities as well: Loma Linda, New York University, and the University of Southern California, according to UCLA officials cited by the Times. The ADA declined to comment.

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