American Dental Association Investigating Allegations of Cheating at Universities

LOS ANGELES

The nation’s largest dentist group is investigating allegations of students cheating on licensing exams at several universities, including three in Southern California, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The American Dental Association is looking into whether some students improperly received questions to a test that helps fulfill qualifications for a license to practice dentistry.

Among the universities affected are the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, Loma Linda University and New York University, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.

UCLA officials acknowledged to the newspaper that an investigation is ongoing.

“The ADA is looking into alleged improprieties by UCLA students associated with testing,” said Lawrence Lokman, UCLA’s assistant vice chancellor of communications. “We would certainly hope any ADA investigation provides adequate due process to the students, and whatever matter they are looking at would be resolved quickly and fairly.”

An afterhours e-mail left for an ADA spokesperson was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Daily Bruin reported Tuesday that the UCLA School of Dentistry allegedly gave preferential treatment toward relatives of large financial donors to the school’s orthodontics residency program.

There are about only six positions offered each year in the residency program, and the positions are highly sought because careers as orthodontic specialists can be lucrative.

A months-long investigation by the campus newspaper revealed the program’s high admissions standards were eased for children or relatives of donors who pledged substantial financial gifts, one as high as $1 million. The newspaper said its article was based on examinations of hundreds of pages of e-mails and internal documents.

Dr. John Beumer III resigned in February as chairman of the faculty executive committee of the dentistry school amid a university probe. In a letter posted Tuesday on the Daily Bruin’s Web site, Beumer said the dentistry’s program selection process amounts to “nothing less than an affirmative action program for the wealthy and well-connected.”

Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the dentistry school, said in a prepared statement that the program was fair and merit-based.

“While an independent investigation requested by Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams found no credible and convincing evidence to support allegations of a legacy program in the orthodontics admissions process,” Park said.

UCLA has been accused of favoring major donors in the past. In 1996, the Los Angeles Times ran a five-part series that underlined how seeking generous donors had become a “team sport,” in the words of one UCLA fundraiser. Following the series, the university prohibited influencing admissions with donations.

–Associated Press

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