Utah Medical School Accused Of Favoring Women, MinoritiesSALT LAKE CITY
Three members of a legislative committee have accused the University of Utah of favoring women and minority applicants to its medical school despite legislative opposition to the practice.
“You deny using quotas. But it seems there’s a real commitment to ratios,” said Rep. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, referring to a January legislative audit that found women and minority applicants are accepted by the state’s only medical school at twice the rate of their White male counterparts.
Backed by Rep. Katherine Bryson, R-Orem, and Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, Dayton reprimanded the medical school and asked lawmakers to address a diversity policy recently drafted by the state board of regents. She contends it conflicts with the state’s nondiscrimination policy.
“We are focusing on diversity as something we should celebrate over academic excellence,” Dayton said.
Loris Betz, dean of the medical school, denied the university has compromised excellence. The medical school’s graduates score in the country’s top quarter in grades, secure highly competitive residencies and score above average on their board exams, he said.
Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake City, expressed concern that people assume female and minority applicants are less qualified and that the university has to scrape bottom to boost diversity.
“I know 10 women who applied with good GPAs and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores and they didn’t get in,” Julander said.
Betz said that 1,200 students apply each year and 500 qualify to get in but only 102 can be accepted. Betz also said the university has since adopted new policies aimed at eliminating any consideration of race or gender.
“The auditors made 14 recommendations. We have implemented every one of them and we went further,” he said.
Changes include creating an executive committee charged with resolving rejection petitions. That task used to fall to one person. Diversity and outreach will no longer report to the admissions dean. And the university will stop classifying students as disadvantaged and will weigh grades and test scores equally with other qualifications, such as community service, research and patient care experience.
The university agreed to meet with auditors to ensure they agree on all points. Another audit has been scheduled for December to check progress.
Hickman threatened to withhold new funding for the medical school unless the audit shows improvement.
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