The University of California, Los Angeles, has become the center of controversy this week after an article published in the campus newspaper alleged favoritism and bribery in regard to admission for the school’s highly competitive orthodontics residency program.
The Daily Bruin investigative report, based on a months-long investigation, alleged that the selection process within the School of Dentistry practices preferential treatment based on monetary donations to the program.
Generally, residency applicants who are accepted to the exclusive program have the most impressive academic qualifications within their respective graduating classes. However, the Daily Bruin’s investigation alleges that gifts to the nationally recognized orthodontics program – which has only six residency positions available annually – have secured positions for the donors or their family members.
UCLA School of Dentistry Dean Dr. No-Hee Park denied the allegations in a statement issued yesterday regarding the scandal.
He said the investigation “found no credible and convincing evidence to support allegations of a donor legacy program in the orthodontics admissions process.”
In January, the UCLA School of Dentistry investigated allegations regarding the existence of a legacy program that favored the admission of relatives of major donors and concluded that such claims were unsubstantiated. The report, however, did include suggestions as to how UCLA could improve the fairness of its admissions process.
In February, John Beumer III resigned as UCLA’s School of Dentistry faculty executive committee chairman in protest of what he called “sordid affairs.” In a resignation letter obtained by the Daily Bruin, Beumer said that he would not take part in a program that used allegedly unethical standards.
“This program violates and makes a mockery of the merit-based traditions and social values that have made the University of California the best and most admired public university system in the world today,” Beumer said.
Daily Bruin Enterprise Editor Robert Faturechi investigated the alleged School of Dentistry scandal for months, conducting various interviews and collecting information on the issue.
He said the newspaper staff found numerous pieces of evidence that contradicted the university’s findings.
“I got the details [the university investigation] wasn’t able to gather,” Faturechi said. “The Daily Bruin came to one conclusion and the university came to another and thus decided that [the allegations] were insubstantial. A lot of faculty and students are calling for accountability, whether it be firings, dismissals or resignations.”
Additionally, according to the Associated Press, the American Dental Association is currently investigating accusations of cheating on dentistry licensing examinations involving at least 12 UCLA students and students from other prestigious universities, including the University of Southern California and New York University.
In 1996, the Los Angeles Times published a series of reports examining the extent to which family connections and patron donations affect admittance to the undergraduate and graduate institutions at UCLA.