Dentist drops dental school pledges

Published September 2, 2006

A Florida dentist who promised millions of dollars to college dentistry programs in three states is telling the schools now he can't come up with the money.

Dr. Gasper Lazzara of Jacksonville paid $3-million in 2003 so the University of Colorado could build a dental school named after him in suburban Aurora. He also promised to give $92.7-million to the orthodontics program over the next three decades.

But over the summer, Lazzara's firm, Orthodontic Education Co. in Ponte Vedra Beach, told school officials the company could not come up with the money.

A message left for Lazzara at his company Friday was not immediately returned.

Lazzara also promised about $1-million per year over 20 years for tuition and stipends for Jacksonville University students in exchange for the students' working at his clinics.

The deal vanished this summer when Lazzara told the school he did not have the money, said Laurance Jerrold, dean and program director for the orthodontics school.

Administrators at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have sent Lazzara a breach-of-contract letter after he did not make the first half of a $3.5-million payment in January, university spokesman Dave Tonelli said. Lazzara offered $40-million three years ago for UNLV's orthodontics program.